ISLAMABAD   -   A new method shows that it’s now possible to estimate the volume of magma stored below volcanoes providing essential information about the potential size of future eruptions. Most active volcanoes on Earth are dormant, meaning that they have not erupted for hundreds or even thousands of years, and are normally not considered hazardous by the local population. A team of volcanologists from the University of Geneva (UNIGE), working in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg in Germany, has devised a technique that can predict the devastating potential of volcanoes. The scientists used zircon, a tiny crystal contained in volcanic rocks, to estimate the volume of magma that could be erupted once Nevado de Toluca volcano (Mexico) will wake up from its dormancy. Up to 350 km3 of magma — about four times the volume of water stored in Lake Geneva — are currently lying below Nevado de Toluca and their eruption could bring devastation.

The new technique, applicable to most types of volcano across the globe, is described in the scientific journal Nature Communications.