When engineers drilled into Iceland's Krafla Volcano in 2009, they were met with superheated fluid, known to many as magma. This was a shocking discovery, as no one had known the area was full of active molten lava. More specifically, though, they learned that unknown danger was right beneath their feet.
Hugh Tuffen, a volcanologist at Lancaster University, may have once deemed Krafla "One of the best-studied volcanoes on the planet." Unfortunately, the truth was that researchers, engineers, and scientists were massively unaware of the danger that laid beneath the Earth's surface. "It's remarkable that this magma was able to hide," Tuffen exclaimed.
After the Icelandic team of engineers who took on the drilling of Krafla got over their initial shock, they were met with 1,650-degree Fahrenheit lava - just over one mile into the Earth's surface. Thus, they decided to set several scientific tools in place in hopes that they would help detect the molten-filled lava.
Researchers for Geology have posed the hypothesis that hidden magma pockets could very well exist around more active volcanos around the world. Unfortunately, due to their size - smaller than a cubic mile - the lava-filled holes have been absent to the naked eye.
Thanks to engineering research and studies, chemical analysis proves that many of the lava pockets had actually gone undetected for nearly three centuries! The danger risk may increase if an area like this were to ever be disturbed by live magma. Not only could this cause an eruption, but a severe hazard to the surrounding areas. Emma Liu, a volcanologist at University College London, explained further. "If these little pockets of potentially eruptible melt are the norm rather than the exception, then they're little ticking time bombs just beneath volcanoes," she warned.
To keep these hot pockets monitored, the Krafla Magma Testband has announced that they intend to study the formerly hidden magma pocket. To do this, they will revisit the 2009 drilling site and study the infernal gap. If all goes according to plan, this initiative will be the world's first magma observatory.