Ask a volcanologist anything you want to know about volcanoes!

Illustration for article titled Ask a volcanologist anything you want to know about volcanoes!

Volcanoes! Whether we're talking about Pompeii, why some volcanoes in Indonesia are erupting with blue lava, or the mechanics of supervolcanoes, they're totally fascinating. Today, we have a volcanologist in to answer your questions about volcanoes, eruptions, and their aftereffects.


Charlie Mandeville is a volcanologist at USGS. His research has ranged from looking at the mechanics of volcanic eruptions, the geochemistry of volcanic rocks, and the inner workings of magma. He's the Program Coordinator of the USGS's Volcano Hazards Program (which covers volcano observatories in Hawaii, Alaska, Cascadia, California, and Yellowstone) and of the Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. Before he was at the USGS, he was a Senior Research Scientist at the American Museum of Natural History and his Ph.D. research at the University of Rhode Island Graduate School of Oceanography focused on the infamous 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia.

He'll be joining us from 10:30-11:30 A.M. (Pacific time), so start asking him your questions now about volcanoes, how they erupt, and just what kind of aftermath they can leave.

Image: View at dusk of the young Pu'u 'O'o cinder-and-spatter cone, with fountain approximately 40 m high / by G.E. Ulrich, USGS.


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I was taught that one thing that can cause volcanoes to appear in a certain place is hotter spots in the mantle beneath them. Is that just a working hypothesis because of strings of volcanoes popping up one after another in a line like Hawaii or has the temperature of the mantle ever been measured (by seismography or something)?

If these hot spots are likely to exist, how long do they last? It's hard to picture some anomaly like that lasting over geological time scales when (I imagine) things are so fluid down there.