APR 15, 2020 2:47 PM PDT

Using chemistry to predict volcanic eruptions

Researchers from The National Center for Scientific Research at the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (CNRS/IPGP/IGN) are turning to chemistry to answer questions about volcanoes and our planet’s early beginnings. The resulting study was published recently in the journal Nature.

Led by a CNRS researcher, Jabrane Labidi, the team gathered gas samples from volcanoes around the world. The idea was to figure out where the nitrogen that makes up Earth’s atmosphere originally came from. Earth’s atmosphere is a unique combination in our solar system. While the atmospheres of Venus and Mars are made up principally of carbon dioxide, Earth’s is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen.

We know that the oxygen initially came from our planet’s original organisms, but what about the nitrogen? This team of scientists hypothesized that the nitrogen came as a result of volcanic eruptions from deep within Earth’s mantle.

This hypothesis, however, was quickly debunked from their gas samples. The samples showed the researchers that the nitrogen found from magma that comes from Earth’s mantle is isotopically distinct from atmospheric nitrogen, meaning it could not account for the atmospheric composition of nitrogen.

Photo: Pixabay

So, while that question continues to be unanswered, the researchers didn’t come away from their study empty-handed, so to speak. From their sample measurements, there were able to identify how volcanic gases contributed to the atmosphere (from heated rainwater) and the Earth’s mantle (forming magmatic gas). For example, they observed that small amounts of magmatic gas in geysers in Yellowstone National Park, which indicates renewed activity. Observations such as this could be useful for predicting future volcanic activity, say the authors.

Sources: Nature, Science Daily

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
JUN 11, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
Cutting-edge wearables: the next generation of electronics
JUN 11, 2021
Cutting-edge wearables: the next generation of electronics
New research published in Applied Physics Reviews from AIP Publishing considers the development of flexible supercapacit ...
JUN 21, 2021
Microbiology
In a Blow to Enzyme Latch Theory, Soil Microbes Break Down Polyphenols
JUN 21, 2021
In a Blow to Enzyme Latch Theory, Soil Microbes Break Down Polyphenols
Microbes have many connections to humans. Gut microbes have a major influence on our health. For example, when we eat fr ...
JUN 19, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
How can we reduce our dependency on lithium and cobalt for EV batteries?
JUN 19, 2021
How can we reduce our dependency on lithium and cobalt for EV batteries?
A new study published in Joule reports advances in lithium batteries from the University of Houston and Rice University ...
AUG 11, 2021
Earth & The Environment
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
AUG 11, 2021
"Code Red:" Inside the IPCC's Newest Climate Report
On Monday, August 9th, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first of their newest set of cl ...
SEP 10, 2021
Space & Astronomy
The Future (and Ethics) of Giant Telescopes
SEP 10, 2021
The Future (and Ethics) of Giant Telescopes
The fate of giant telescopes hangs in the balance as this decade comes to an end.
SEP 14, 2021
Plants & Animals
Ant Teeth Can Function Like Miniature Metal Tools
SEP 14, 2021
Ant Teeth Can Function Like Miniature Metal Tools
Researchers have discovered the secret to the powerful cutting ability of ants: they have teeth on the outside of their ...
Loading Comments...