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Earthquake’s activity mitigated by Mount Aso’s magma

Plenty of research has been going into mitigating the damage from earthquakes, but can much be done to stop them, at least on a local level? It looks like there are forces on Earth strong enough to do so, but unfortunately for anyone in an area prone to tremors, it’s not something we can immediately employ as a safety measure. In a case where the cure is as bad as the disease, it appears that one thing strong enough to stop an earthquake is an active volcano.

Mount Aso, a volcano on Japan’s Kyushu island, was in the path of an earthquake in April of this year. The 7.1 magnitude quake caused considerable damage, although it’s reach seemed to be halted when it intersected with Mount Aso. Comparisons of satellite images and on-the-ground observations showed how new faults, including visible rips in the surface of the ground, couldn’t seem to continue past the northeastern edge of the volcano.

Mount Aso is what’s called a caldera— a large depression 13 miles across left after the more iconic cone of the volcano collapsed into itself long ago. Even in this reduced state, Mount Aso still has enough magma beneath its surface to make a dent in seismic activity, reshaping energy from the earthquake as it had to move through softer, more absorbent materials. The magma didn’t completely sponge up the earthquake’s energy though, as new fissures were likely made underground, which could become new conduits for magma during later volcanic eruptions.

Not exactly an answer for earthquakes

So while Mount Aso made a difference in the earthquake’s destruction, nobody is prescribing magma as a solution to underground tremors. If anything, the real takeaway here is that earthquakes and volcanoes are part of a dynamic system, and may interact with each other in a variety of ways, from dampening seismic pressure to possibly sparking new disasters altogether. It hasn’t been conclusively linked, but there’s a chance that Mount Aso’s October eruption was triggered by these events from the spring. So even though seismic retrofitting isn’t quite as awesome as an active volcano, it certainly seems to be the more practical option for now.

Source: This volcano stopped an earthquake in its tracks, scientists say by Ian Randall, Science

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