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Study: Australian volcanoes 'overdue'
by Staff Writers
Melbourne (UPI) Jul 5, 2011

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Australian researchers studying the age of volcanoes in Western Victoria and South Australia say the regions are overdue for an eruption.

Scientists from the University of Melbourne's School of Earth Sciences and the Melbourne School of Engineering have calculated the ages of the regions' small volcanoes and established the recurrence rate for eruptions at 2,000 years.

With the last volcano eruption happening more than 5,000 years ago, scientists say the areas are overdue, a university release said Tuesday.

"Although the volcanoes in the region don't erupt on a regular sequence, the likelihood of an eruption is high given the average gap in the past has been 2,000 years," Bernie Joyce of the School of Earth Sciences said.

"These are small eruptions and very localized but depending on the type of eruption, they could cause devastation to thousands of people," he said.

The regions studied demonstrate a history of activity by young monogenetic or single short-lived activity volcanoes, the researchers said.

"Among the hazards which may need to be prepared for in this closely-settled region are the localized effects of cone building leading to lava flows which run downhill towards the coast," Joyce said.

"The long lasting and often extensive lava flows can travel for tens of kilometers, and so would be hazardous to modern infrastructure such as bridges, roads and railways, power lines and pipelines, as well as being a major fire hazard on the dry grassland plains of summer in Western Victoria."

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