Surprise magma pocket found in Iceland hints at more 'ticking time bombs'
Geologists were stunned to find previously unmapped magma at some of the world's best studied volcanoes. Now, they must figure out how to detect these potentially hazardous reservoirs in other volcanic hot spots.
When engineers began drilling into an Icelandic volcano named Krafla, things took a turn for the weird. The team’s objective was to approach the boundary of a magma reservoir 2.5 miles below the surface, tapping into superheated fluids that could produce geothermal energy. But when the drill was just over a mile down, molten rock began creeping up the drill.
On that brisk spring day in 2009, the engineers had accidentally hit a pocket of magma sitting right below the surface that no one knew was there.
Krafla is “one of the best studied volcanoes on the planet,” says Hugh Tuffen, a volcanologist at Lancaster University in the United Kingdom who wasn’t involved with the research. It has been repeatedly