Just like people, volcanoes erupt when stressed - study

Anak Krakatau.
Anak Krakatau. Photo credit: Reuters

Do you blow your top when stressed? If so, you're in good company - volcanoes do too.

New research has found they're more likely to erupt or implode, causing tsunamis and waves of hot gas and lava after building up stress.

Little is known about what goes on inside active volcanoes, says recent Monash University PhD graduate Sam Thiele.

"Research on volcano growth helps us to understand these internal processes and the associated forces that could trigger a deadly collapse or eruption."

His team used drones to investigate a dormant volcano in the Canary Islands, measuring more than 400,000 cracks through which red-hot magma once flowed. 

This allowed them to estimate the forces involved.

"This is one of the first studies to look at the long-term effects of magma movement within a volcano," said study co-author Sandy Cruden, also from Monash University in Melbourne.

"We found that volcanoes gradually become 'stressed' by repeated movement of this magma, potentially destabilising the whole volcano, influencing future collapses and eruptions."

The research was published in the journal Scientific Reports