Reexamining Dormant Volcanoes: Unraveling the Mysteries of Sudden Eruptions

by Hiroshi Tanaka
volcanic reactivation

The study of the Ciomadul volcano by researchers has shed light on the mechanisms by which volcanoes, long inactive, can unexpectedly become eruptive. Through an analysis of the magma’s chemical and mineralogical makeup, this research offers crucial insights into the reactivation of dormant volcanoes and the prediction of their eruptions, underscoring the potential risks posed by seemingly inactive volcanic sites. Source:

A volcano, even in a period of dormancy, can swiftly transition to an active state, posing unforeseen hazards to nearby areas.

Is it possible for a volcano to erupt after lying dormant for thousands of years? What are the explanations for this and what factors make volcanic eruptions more explosive and therefore more dangerous? These are central concerns in evaluating volcanic risks and bring attention to volcanoes that might seem inactive. Even during a dormant phase, a volcano can swiftly transition to an active state, posing unforeseen hazards to nearby areas. Recent investigations by Hungarian researchers are revealing early warning signs of such volcanic activities.

Researchers from ELTE Eötvös Loránd University’s Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences and the HUN-REN-ELTE Volcanology Research Group, collaborating with European scientists, focused their studies on Ciomadul, the Carpathian-Pannonian region’s youngest volcano.

Utilizing detailed data on mineral textures and chemical compositions, they assessed magma evolution conditions, reconstructed the subvolcanic magma chamber’s architecture, and identified characteristics of the resident crystal mush and the incoming magmas that triggered the eruptions. They also explained the predominant explosiveness of volcanic activities in the most recent active period.

Location of Ciomadul’s most recent eruption: the St Ana crater.
Credit: István Fodor

Ciomadul: An Exemplar of a Long-Dormant Volcano


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about volcanic reactivation

Can a long-dormant volcano like Ciomadul suddenly become active?

Yes, even after tens of thousands of years of dormancy, Ciomadul and similar volcanoes can suddenly become active, as demonstrated by recent research. This sudden reactivation poses significant risks to surrounding areas.

What did the study of Ciomadul volcano reveal about volcanic eruptions?

The study revealed that the chemical and mineralogical composition of magma can provide insights into the reactivation of dormant volcanoes. Researchers found that even in a dormant phase, a volcano can quickly become active, leading to potentially explosive eruptions.

What methods were used in the Ciomadul volcano research?

Researchers used high-resolution mineral texture and chemical composition data, along with U-Th-Pb-He geochronology on zircon crystals, to understand the conditions of magma evolution and reconstruct the architecture of the subvolcanic magma reservoir.

What role does amphibole play in volcanic eruptions?

Amphibole, a key mineral studied in the Ciomadul research, can incorporate many elements in its crystal lattice, reflecting the conditions of the magma. Its composition in the Ciomadul pumices varied, indicating different magma conditions that contributed to the explosive nature of the eruptions.

Why is the study of long-dormant volcanoes like Ciomadul important?

Studying long-dormant volcanoes helps in understanding the potential hazards they pose, even if they appear inactive. Such studies can aid in eruption forecasting and highlight the need for monitoring dormant volcanoes that may still have melt-bearing magma beneath them.

More about volcanic reactivation

  • Source of the original article on Ciomadul volcano research.
  • DOI: 10.1007/s00410-023-02075-z: Link to the scientific paper titled “Constraints on the pre-eruptive magma storage conditions and magma evolution of the 56–30 ka explosive volcanism of Ciomadul (East Carpathians, Romania).”

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reader123 December 17, 2023 - 8:39 pm

wow such fascinatin stuff about volcanoes. so it meanz even old volcanos can be like boom? lol

earthLover December 18, 2023 - 2:02 am

Thiz remindz us dat Earth’s dynamik n’ volatile. Need more research like thiz!

volcanoExpert99 December 18, 2023 - 2:09 am

Impressive research on Ciomadul! Amfibole is key, eh? Amazing how it all workz.

curiousMinds December 18, 2023 - 8:01 am

Thiz study is like a wake-up call. We gotta watch those sleepy volcanoes!

scienceGeek47 December 18, 2023 - 9:17 am

i’ve alwayz been into volcanoes and this is like the coolist stuff. the zircon thing is like amazin!


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