Do Underground Bombs Set off Volcanoes?

15 June 2008

Question

Can underground nuclear bombs and explosions result in shockwaves that might trigger off a volcano?

Answer

We put this question to Marie Edmonds and Richard Daives:

Marie - To my knowledge this has never been observed but in theory yes. Because certainly distant very large earthquakes can set off volcanic eruptions so presumably this is possible. Chris - Richard, one would think they might have an impact on mud volcanoes?

Richard Davies - Absolutely. That's proven that earthquakes can kick off mud volcanoes. If you go down to a beach and you jump up and down on the shoreline long enough you will create your own sand volcanoes through the same sort of process. You cause something called liquefaction when you turn the sediment into a liquid. Chris - Have we any evidence linking earthquake activity or bomb tests or anything like that to mud volcanoes really or is it just theory?

Richard - Well, now I've investigated the Lusi volcano I've heard of stories where mud volcanoes erupted at the same time as seismic surveys etcetera. I don't know if it's proven yet but it's certainly been suggested. If there's already a mud volcano there, in other words the pipe works is there already, it could happen. It could increase its activity level.

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