by Rhonda McBride
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The debate over the connection between climate change and volcanic activity is not new.
But the latest eruption of Eyjafjallajökull Volcano in Iceland has some scientists taking a closer look.
"One of the things that captivates your attention when you go to a place like Iceland are its magnificent glaciers. They sit on volcanoes, so it's a natural connection to think about how glaciers and volcanoes interact," said Chris Waythomas, a vulcanologist with the U.S. Geological Survey.
Carolina Pagli, a researcher at the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom, speculates on her website that when ice fields on top of a volcano melt, pressure on the earth's crust shifts, which makes it easier for magma to rise to the surface.
Pagli says Alaskan volcanoes are vulnerable to climate change, especially in the Aleutians.
"It may explain activity at some volcanoes, but probably isn't going to explain it at every one," said Waythomas, who had heard Pagli's theory before the most recent eruption.