Indian origin scientist finds active African volcano to have most fluid lava in world

March 15th, 2009 - 1:36 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 15 (ANI): A geochemist of Indian origin has determined that an active African volcano possesses the most fluid lava in the world, which points toward its source being a mantle plume that is in complete pristine condition. The lava composition indicates that a mantle plume-an upwelling of intense heat from near the core of the Earth-may be bubbling to life beneath Nyiragongo, an active African volcano, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. “This is the most fluid lava anyone has seen in the world,” said Asish Basu, professor of earth science at the University of Rochester, the geochemist who conducted the research. “It’’s unlike anything coming out of any other volcano. We believe we”re seeing the beginning of a plume that is pushing up the entire area and contributing to volcanism and earthquakes,” he added. Basu analyzed the lava, which resides in the world’’s largest lava lake-more than 600 feet wide inside the summit of Nyiragongo-and found that the isotopic compositions of neodymium and strontium are identical to ancient asteroids. “This suggests that the lava is coming from a place deep inside the Earth where the source of molten rock is in its pristine condition,” said Basu. “Because the Earth’’s crust is undergoing constant change via tectonic motion, weathering, and resurfacing, its chemical composition has been dramatically altered over its 4-billion-year lifespan, but the Nyiragongo magma source in the deep mantle has not,” he added. That magma source is thought to retain some of the solar system’’s original make-up of elements, and this is what Basu and his colleagues believe they have detected in Nyiragongo’’s lava lake. Scientists believe mantle plumes can last hundreds of millions of years, and that their heat can create phenomena such as Yellowstone National Park or the string of Hawaiian Islands. According to Basu, Nyiragongo’’s frequent eruptions may be the birthing pains of a similar plume and the possible beginning of new large-scale geological formations in the region. Basu said that other well known features of the region also point toward the idea of a growing plume. “This is a very troubled region of the world, and we hope to be able to help better understand the conditions under which the people of that area must live,” said Basu. Nyiragongo last erupted in 2002, sending its super-fluid lava down its slopes at more than 60 miles per hour toward the nearby town of Goma, destroying 4,500 buildings and leaving 120,000 homeless. (ANI)

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