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Jul 2, 2013 9:38 AM by Stephen Bowers

Volcanoes may sink due to earthquakes

Two new studies published in LiveScience reveal that major earthquakes may actually cause volcanoes to sink.

Researchers observed that volcanoes did, in fact, sink following Japan's 9.0-magnitude quake in 2011 and Chile's 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010. The before vs. after difference was as much as 6 inches according to a report from NBC News based on the study.

The report says these two occurrences are the first times scientists have seen strings of volcanoes drop following earthquakes. The two teams of researchers have differing theories behind the sinking volcanoes and say that they will learn more with time.

The report from NBC News says the group studying the Chilean volcanoes "think the seismic shaking uncorked fissures and fractures that released pent-up hydrothermal fluids at the volcanoes, akin to shaking a soda bottle and then opening the top. As the fluids escaped, the ground settled and sank."

The group studying the volcanoes in Japan, however, "thinks magma chambers under the volcanoes sank more than the surrounding region. The hot rock is weaker and deforms more in response to the crustal changes caused by the massive quake."

The researchers will continue to monitor for future occurrences and will monitor past satellite data to watch for past occurrences of sinking volcanoes.

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