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Thread: Artificial eruption

  1. #1
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    Artificial eruption

    Could we trigger a volcanic eruption, if for some strange reason we wanted to? Would a nuke set off inside a crater or caldera do it?
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  2. #2
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    Iím really answering this intuitively, based on my limited knowledge of such things. I think that we could, but it would depend on the specific conditions. In the situation of a volcano poised to erupt, and explosion in the right place would surely be a trigger.


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  3. #3
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    as Jens says, you need a weakness in the crust where a magma chamber has accumulated or there is a fissure in the rocks because elsewhere the hot magma is capped by kilometers of solid rock. But in an active but dormant volcano you could drill down and plant an explosive or you could do it from the top or side and hope to trigger enough disruption for the pressure beneath to break out. At a simplistic level the pressure comes from the weight of all the surrounding crust. I would guess good old gunpowder would work in the right circumstances, or even a fracking style pressure pipe because once you make a crack in the right place the pressure below will do the rest. The edges of the tectonic plates are where there are most volcanoes and earthquakes as the plates move relative to each other. The crust is also shrinking as it cools but I guess its weight that pressurises the magma layer. Those underwater volcanoes are from tectonic separations. To interfere with those masses would defy even nuclear explosions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Mazanec View Post
    Could we trigger a volcanic eruption, if for some strange reason we wanted to? Would a nuke set off inside a crater or caldera do it?
    During WWII, there were a few articles suggesting that the US bomb Japanese volcanoes in order to trigger eruptions, but this was never carried out.
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    Similar to what profloater suggests, you may well be able to initiate an eruption if you use explosives to remove the flank of a volcano already teetering on the edge. For example, with the recent eruption of Anak Krakatau, the volcano erupted as much of the flank of the mountain slid off into the sea (which happened first doesn't matter here). Similarly, Mt St Helens erupted by blowing off a huge chunk of its flank. Properly placed large explosives (nukes) could provide the force necessary to allow gravity to remove enough material to then allow magma pressure to erupt the volcano.

  6. #6
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    Hawaii's Magma Chamber May Be World's Shallowest
    When Ditkof applied the technique to Hawaii's volcanoes, she found the islands' fiery mountains share a single so-called magma chamber, which lies a mere 1.9 to 2.5 miles (3 to 4 kilometers) below Hawaii.
    "Now we know the chamber is at a shallow depth not seen anywhere else in the world," Ditkof said.
    In comparison, the magma chambers beneath Iceland lie at an average depth of 12.4 miles (20 km).
    We might be able to get explosives close enough to the Hawaiian chamber to forge a crack down to it. Temperature will of course be a problem, but a half mile long crack through from a shaped charged seems on the edge of doable.

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  7. #7
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    Years ago someone asked what would happne if Russia's deep core drilling operation hit a magma pocket. Basically in that case, even if the magma had a lot of water content (explosive type) you'd still wind up with a non explosive fountain type eruption. Also because of the nature of a smooth bore hole, it might fountain up into the atmosphere as much as a mile or two. Drive a car over an open tooth paste tube, and would give you the idea of how it would scale up.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgavin View Post
    Years ago someone asked what would happne if Russia's deep core drilling operation hit a magma pocket. Basically in that case, even if the magma had a lot of water content (explosive type) you'd still wind up with a non explosive fountain type eruption. Also because of the nature of a smooth bore hole, it might fountain up into the atmosphere as much as a mile or two. Drive a car over an open tooth paste tube, and would give you the idea of how it would scale up.
    that's interesting, I am guessing the water content continually powers it inside the bore hole because a viscous flow over that length would severely limit the flow.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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    Quote Originally Posted by profloater View Post
    that's interesting, I am guessing the water content continually powers it inside the bore hole because a viscous flow over that length would severely limit the flow.
    Basicaly yes. A bore hole to more fluid magma with minimal water content would probably seal itself as it hit the cooler walls raising up, where as with more water content, the steam is released as soon as the pressure is gone (borehole) is complete, which preheats the bore hole in-front of the rising magma, so doesn't cool as fast or as much. What I don't know, is if it would be a continuous flow, or something more like a roman candle where it shoots globs of magma higher up, from steam pressure behind/in the magma. I suspect the latter. Sort of a magma/steam gun.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by dgavin View Post
    Basicaly yes. A bore hole to more fluid magma with minimal water content would probably seal itself as it hit the cooler walls raising up, where as with more water content, the steam is released as soon as the pressure is gone (borehole) is complete, which preheats the bore hole in-front of the rising magma, so doesn't cool as fast or as much. What I don't know, is if it would be a continuous flow, or something more like a roman candle where it shoots globs of magma higher up, from steam pressure behind/in the magma. I suspect the latter. Sort of a magma/steam gun.
    I guess the superheated water would progressively flash off all the way up, driving pressure at all points in the flow. Interesting case. There might also be slug flow, lumps separated by expanding steam pockets.
    sicut vis videre esto
    When we realize that patterns don't exist in the universe, they are a template that we hold to the universe to make sense of it, it all makes a lot more sense.
    Originally Posted by Ken G

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