Methods for volcanic dating

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Following the discovery of radioactivity by Becquerel (1896), the possibility of using this phenomenon as a means for determining the age of uranium-bearing minerals was demonstrated by Rutherford (1906).

One year later Boltwood (1907) developed the chemical U-Pb method. By combining Von Weizsackers argon abundance arguments with Kohlhorsters observation that potassium emitted gamma-radiation, Bramley (1937) presented strong evidence that potassium underwent dual decay.

Relative age dating also means paying attention to crosscutting relationships.

Say for example that a volcanic dike, or a fault, cuts across several sedimentary layers, or maybe through another volcanic rock type.

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Geologists draw on it and other basic principles ( to determine the relative ages of rocks or features such as faults.

Researchers from the Department of Earth Sciences at Royal Holloway, University of London, have developed a new method which could more accurately determine the conditions needed for a volcano to erupt.

The study will be published on 28 October in The team, composed of Ph D students John Browning and Sandy Drymoni and Professor Agust Gudmundsson, used newly collected geological data and historical data on previous eruptions of the Santorini volcano in Greece, to work out the capacity of the volcano's magma-chamber.

Thus, while great volume of new magma was received by the Santorini chamber in 2012, so that it came close to rupture (and possible eruption), the chamber did not quite reach the rupture stage.

The new model has the potential to forecast when magma chambers in other volcanoes could rupture and potentially lead to eruptions, which should aid emergency planning and risk assessments.

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