Skip to content

Big Ideas #4: Eruptions are started by diverse events (triggers).


In order to fully understand volcanic eruptions, it is critical to examine eruption triggers.  Volcanic triggers are events which destabilize an active volcano, promoting eruption.  They should not be confused with the cause of the eruption since many occur independently of the volcanic system. The close monitoring of these triggering events is necessary for eruption forecasting and prediction which can save thousands of lives.  Prediction of these triggers requires a diverse range of scientific knowledge and close monitoring of the volcanic system and region.

As magma travels from its deep rooted origins, the path it takes is uncertain and often difficult to predict complicating eruption prediction.  In the unlikely case that magma approaches the surface and builds eruptive pressure, an eruption could occur.  These eruptions do not occur randomly and are often triggered by a variety of events unique to each volcano.  By understanding which triggers a volcano is susceptible to, it may be easier to predict an impending volcanic eruption.

In this Big Idea, the broad range of triggering events is examined as well as the complexities of determining the eruptive triggers for each volcanic system. Resources have been gathered from professional papers, news articles, and expert sources (view Here) to ensure proper coverage and accurate information.  Listed below are the subtopics for this Big Idea:

4.1:  There are many types of triggers which may lead to a volcanic eruption.

4.2:   Triggers are unique to each volcano and the geology and geography of the system.

4 .3:  Most triggering events do not lead to eruptions.

4.4:  Most volcanoes are susceptible to multiple triggering events.

4.5:  Eruption prediction is complicated by the complexity of triggering events.

4.6:  Some triggers give greater warning time for impending eruption than others.