Can an eruption at one volcano trigger an eruption at another nearby volcano, for example, within about 10 kilometers?

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Episode Number: 30

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Location Taken: US

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Welcome to CoreFacts, where we're always short on time and big on science. I'm Steve Sobieszczyk. Let's get right to it, today's question is:

Can an eruption at one volcano trigger an eruption at another nearby volcano, for example, within about 10 kilometers?

There are a few historic examples of simultaneous eruptions from volcanoes or vents located within about 10 kilometers of each other, but it's very difficult to determine whether one might have caused the other. To the extent that these erupting volcanoes or vents have common or overlapping magma reservoirs and hydrothermal systems, magma rising to erupt from one volcano may affect the other volcano's "plumbing" system and cause some form of unrest, including eruptions. For example, the huge explosive eruption of Novarupta vent in Alaska triggered the summit of nearby Mt. Katmai volcano to collapse, thereby forming a new caldera (but there was no simultaneous eruption!).

For a few of the historic examples of simultaneous eruptions from nearby volcanoes, scientists actually consider the individual volcanoes or vents to be part of a larger volcano complex consisting of overlapping stratovolcanoes, cinder cones, fissures, vents, and even calderas. In such cases, the erupting vents (or volcano) are actually part of the same volcano complex. For example, Tavurvur and Vulcan cones that erupted at nearly the same time in September 1994 are vents located within the Rabaul Caldera in Papua New Guinea. In such cases, one eruption does not really "trigger" a nearby vent to erupt; instead, moving magma "leaks" to the surface at multiple sites.

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