This Andean Volcano Is Restless. But Should We Expect an Explosive Eruption?

By Yasemin Saplakoglu

The Laguna del Maule, a field of volcanoes in the Andes, is restless.

The Earth’s surface in the region has been rising, and not slowly. Satellite photos taken over the past 10 years have shown that the surface has been rising by around 8 inches (20 centimeters) a year — much faster than any other volcanic area in the world.

Because this region is historically known to have explosive eruptions, geologists are trying to figure out what’s going on below the surface to better predict when and how such catastrophic events may occur.

In a new study published June 27 in the journal Science Advances, a group of geologists used traces of an ancient shoreline to understand why the ground is rising today.

“The restlessness expressed today is pretty astonishing,” said Bradley Singer, a geology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the lead author of the study, referring to the rising ground. But “we do not believe that this current astonishing state of unrest is something new.” These episodes have probably happened around 16 times in the past 10,000 years, he added.

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