Ebisuzaki et al : Some volcanoes are triggered by cosmic rays

Posted: October 8, 2012 by tallbloke in cosmic rays, Solar physics, volcanos

My thanks to Gray Stevens, who has drawn my attention to this 2011 paper  from journal  Gondwana Research. If current estimates of volcanic effects on surface temperature are correct, this represents a strong terrestrial amplification of the influence of solar variability on Earth’s climate. 

Explosive volcanic eruptions triggered by cosmic rays: Volcano as a bubble chamber
Toshikazu Ebisuzaki, Hiroko Miyahara, Ryuho Kataoka, Tatsuhiko Sato, Yasuhiro Ishimine

Abstract:

Volcanoes with silica-rich and highly viscous magma tend to produce violent explosive eruptions that result in disasters in local communities and that strongly affect the global environment. We examined the timing of 11 eruptive events that produced silica-rich magma from four volcanoes in Japan (Mt. Fuji, Mt. Usu, Myojin-sho, and Satsuma-Iwo-jima) over the past 306 years (from AD 1700 to AD 2005). Nine of the 11 events occurred during inactive phases of solar magnetic activity (solar minimum), which is well indexed by the group sunspot number. This strong association between eruption timing and the solar minimum is statistically significant to a confidence level of 96.7%. This relationship is not observed for eruptions from volcanoes with relatively silica-poor magma, such as Izu-Ohshima.

It is well known that the cosmic-ray flux is negatively correlated with solar magnetic activity, as the strong magnetic field in the solar wind repels charged particles such as galactic cosmic rays that originate from outside of the solar system. The strong negative correlation observed between the timing of silica-rich eruptions and solar activity can be explained by variations in cosmic-ray flux arising from solar modulation. Because silica-rich magma has relatively high surface tension (~ 0.1 Nm−1), the homogeneous nucleation rate is so low that such magma exists in a highly supersaturated state without considerable exsolution, even when located relatively close to the surface, within the penetration range of cosmic-ray muons (1–10 GeV). These muons can contribute to nucleation in supersaturated magma, as documented by many authors studying a bubble chamber, via ionization loss. This radiation-induced nucleation can lead to the pre-eruptive exsolution of H2O in the silica-rich magma. We note the possibility that the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo eruption was triggered by the same mechanism: an increase in cosmic-ray flux triggered by Typhoon Yunya, as a decrease in atmospheric pressure results in an increase in cosmic-ray flux. We also speculate that the snowball Earth event was triggered by successive large-scale volcanic eruptions triggered by increased cosmic-ray flux due to nearby supernova explosions.

Comments
  1. Zeke says:

    “We examined the timing of 11 eruptive events that produced silica-rich magma from four volcanoes in Japan (Mt. Fuji, Mt. Usu, Myojin-sho, and Satsuma-Iwo-jima) over the past 306 years (from AD 1700 to AD 2005). Nine of the 11 events occurred during inactive phases of solar magnetic activity (solar minimum), which is well indexed by the group sunspot number.”

    That is an absolutely magnificent graph and an interesting insight.

    I like the fact that it is a local group of volcanoes observed for a certain period of time, with a certain type of magma. I am sure if you globalized and averaged and binned the data, you could make this signal disappear, but this is the kind of careful work that can raise incredible questions about the earth sciences.

  2. Michael Hart says:

    Hmmmm, thought provoking.

    It makes me think further about what other systems that exist in a thermodynamically unstable state could, potentially, be ‘tripped’ or enhanced by cosmic rays/ionising radiation. Cloud formation, lightning strikes & other meteorological phenomena, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, calcium carbonate precipitation, ice-sheet collapse, genetic mutations [environmental or within an "individual"] as in a punctuated-equilibrium sense….

  3. ArndB says:

    The Erzincan (Turkey) Dec. 27, 1939 earthquake does not indicate to cosmic rays.
    Soon after the quake with a force 8 on the Richter scale shook the Anatolia earth taking the life of about 35,000, the NYT said in a Commentary on 29. Dec.1939) “What we urgently need is some method of predicting quakes and warning a threatened population.”
    The most remarkable aspect of this earthquake was the extreme air pressure right above the region. There had been two centres on 24th (about 1,040 mb), the pressure centre above 1,040 over the location of the epicentre on 25th, increasing to above 1,045 mb on 26th, which increased over Eastern Anatolia to ca 1,050 mb during the early morning (27th Dec) and presumably remained high until the earth trembled violently at about 2 o’clock a.m. local time. More at: http://climate-ocean.com/02_51-Dateien/02_51.html . Either the high air pressure could have been regarded as an early warning signal, or the high pressure contributed to the breakout. May be both played a role. How would cosmic rays fit into the scenario?

  4. suricat says:

    ArndB says: October 8, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    “How would cosmic rays fit into the scenario?”

    I concur. Not being proficient in this discipline, all I can say is that IMHO ‘cosmic rays’ are an ‘indicator’ for a ‘sustained slow solar wind’.

    That being said, the shape of Earth’s magnetosphere is distorted by the solar wind and one may well speculate on what happens to magnetic crustal matter during times of the re-shaping of Earth’s magnetosphere. ;)

    Best regards, Ray.

  5. There is less likehood that “radiation-induced nucleation” can cause this cosmic ray/volcano link, than the more direct action of altering Earth’s variable fission rate. This is explained in “Motive Force for All Climate Change” posted at Climate Realist, May 2009. The Sun has variable CME output, the Earth is semi-protected by a variable magnetosphere and fissionable material, under varying heat and pressure, which reacts to particle bombardments. Of the Earth’s 259 trillion cubim miles of mostly molten rock is over 2 million cubic miles of highly fissionable Uranium and Thorium which divides producing massive heat and “new” daughter elements. These new “elemental atoms”, under high heat and high pressure go on to produce new elemental compounds, including the 97% natural CO2 and Methane that are constantly outgassed. More on all of this under the “Geothermal” tab at FauxScienceSlayer.com. Find and share Truth, it is your duty as an Earthling.

  6. p.g.sharrow says:

    I find it hard to believe that Cosmic Rays triggered these eruptions but I would accept that the cause of the increase in Cosmic Rays also triggered the pyroclastic events.

    Joseph A Olson points to changes in nuclear event rates.
    We know changes in solar output corresponds to changes in detected Cosmic Ray rates as well as changes in nuclear reaction rates on the Earth.

    We should not jump to conclusions as to cause and effects. pg

  7. nick says:

    Is 11 a large enough sample to get a statistically meaningful result? From their chart the 2 that did not fit occured exactly at solar maxima and 2 others have been very generously appraised as occurring during solar minima. I would need a few more samples to be convinced there is a strong correlation.

    Air pressure has long been implicated as a trigger for geological events. I think they may have more luck if they correlate typhoons and eruptions. There may of course also be a correlation between weather and cosmic ray flux (via SST or whatever) but I would have thought that would be positive not negative.

  8. sabretoothed says:

    So thence, since most of the CO2 is produced by the 3million undersea volcanoes on earth, Cosmic rays control CO2?

  9. Pablo says:

    Hi, can i download this paper? I have facebook group called Aficionados a la volcanología, where we studied the solar and lunar influence on volcanic activity.

  10. Chris says:

    Hi to all,
    do you know the differnce between an correlation and a causality? Thing about this!
    Lets tell this: On the roof of the big gynaecological hospital in Freiburg there are a lot of storks which a breeding every year. An many year ago a Professor of psychology did an statistical research of the coherency of the storks they are bredding on the roof of the hospital and the human babies which are born in this time. And ohhhh wonder. if the nomer of storks are increasing and the nomer of birth fits with a constant factor. It is the truth.
    BUT: It is a correlation and NOT a causality!
    So, think about the correlation of the cosmic rays and the nomer of silica rich eruptions. Did you ever had a look about the cosmic rays and the silica-low eruptions in the same time. Surely not, becuase it is impossible.

  11. Gray says:

    A detail on Cosmic Rays from Wikipedia:

    ‘The number of particles that hit the ground is dependent on several factors including location with respect to the earth’s magnetic field, solar cycle, elevation, and the energy of the particles. For 1 GeV particles, the rate of arrival is about 10,000 per square meter per second. At 1 TeV the rate is 1 particle per square meter per second. At 10 PeV there are only a few particles per square meter per year. Particles above 10 EeV arrive only at a rate of about one particle per square kilometer per year, and above 100 EeV at a rate of about one particle per square kilometer per century.’

    So I would ask, 10,000 arrivals per square metre at 1 GeV per second (within the study range) seems like a large figure, can anyone provide some insight into the amount of nucleation this might provoke.

    Interesting comments guys…

  12. Zeke says:

    It is a small sample, and there are most certainly other possible drivers which could explain the volcanic eruptions during solar minimums/low sunspot count.

    But this does not detract from the value of the scientific descriptions and the work the paper presents. Others can disagree with mechanisms, but the scientists have made an important contribution by accurately describing what they found.

    What’s wrong with scratching the surface? (:

  13. Brian H says:

    ” nick says:
    October 10, 2012 at 8:13 am

    Air pressure has long been implicated as a trigger for geological events. I think they may have more luck if they correlate typhoons and eruptions. There may of course also be a correlation between weather and cosmic ray flux (via SST or whatever) but I would have thought that would be positive not negative.”

    High pressure, clear skies, low GCRs, eruption.
    Low pressure, cloudy skies, high GCRs, no eruption.

    Negative all the way. :)

  14. Zeke says:

    An interesting chart showing possible relationship between low solar activity and volcanic eruptions.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2012/12/06/cold-coincidence-or-volcanic-coordination/