KEY POINTS

  • A volcano in China is showing signs of increased activity
  • Scientists believe Weishan volcano's magma chambers are recharging
  • Weishan's current activities could lead to a possible eruption 

A volcano in China, which last erupted 50,000 years ago, is showing signs of increased volcanic activity. According to scientists, the volcano’s magma chamber might be recharging and could cause an eruption soon.

The study on the volcano was conducted by scientists from the University of Science and Technology in China. They presented their findings in a new study published in the journal Geology.

For their study, the scientists focused on a volcano known as Weishan, which is located in the northeast portion of the country. Weishan is situated within a volcanic field known as Wudalianchi, which spans about 193 square miles.

This volcanic field contains about 14 steep-sided cinder cones surrounded by lava flows. Although the last time Weishan erupted was in 1776, recent eruptions were recorded in Wudalianchi.

In a recent study, a team of scientists created a 3D model of the volcano to investigate the structures beneath it. Through their observations, the scientists learned that Weishan has a shallow magma chamber within its upper crust and another one in the middle crust.

They believe that the magma chamber in the middle crust could be serving as a source for the chamber in the upper crust, enabling it to recharge. Based on their analysis, the scientists learned that the melt fraction of magma in the volcano’s chambers is currently at 15%. Generally, eruptions take place when this figure reaches 40%.

Although Weishan is still far from the eruption threshold, scientists suggested that the volcano should be closely monitored. Aside from the activities of the magma chambers, frequent earthquakes have been recorded in the areas surrounding the volcano since 2008. For the scientists, the seismic activity could be caused by the movement of magma underneath the volcano.

They noted that the volcano’s current status and activities suggest that an eruption is possible.

“Considering the significant melt fractions and active earthquakes and tremors occurring around magma reservoirs, the Weishan volcano is likely in an active stage with magma recharging,” the scientists stated. “Therefore, it needs more active monitoring for better forecasting of its potential future eruptions.”