A new discovery in the study of how lava dome volcanoes erupt may help predict how a volcanic eruption will behave.
Volcanologists say a process called frictional melting plays a role in determining how a volcano will erupt, by dictating how fast magma can ascend to the surface, and how much resistance it faces en-route.
The process occurs in lava dome volcanoes when magma and rocks melt as they rub against each other due to intense heat. This creates a stop start movement in the magma as it makes its way towards the earth's surface. The magma sticks to the rock and stops moving until enough pressure builds up, prompting it to shift forward again, a process called stick-slip.