Wednesday 3 July 2013

Seismic activity on Mount Momotombo in western Nicaragua.

The Instituto Nicaragüense de Estudios Territoriales recorded a sharp increase in seismic activity on Mount Momotombo, a volcano in the east of the country, on Monday 1 July 2013, which persisted over the next 24 hours, and included several Earthquakes with Magnitudes in excess of 3.0. Such bouts of seismic activity can mean that fresh magma os moving into chambers beneath a volcano, an can hereld an eruption, though this is not always the case. Momotombo is considered an active volcano having erupted 15 times since it was first encountered by Spanish explorers in the sixteenth century, but has not undergone a significant confirmed eruption since 1905 (there may have been one in 1918, but this is uncertain).

Mount Momotombo seen from the south, Lake Managua in the foreground. University of California Santa Cruz.

Nicaragua is located on the southern edge of the Caribbean Plate, which underlies Central America as well as the Caribbean Sea. To the south the Cocos Plate, which underlies part of the eastern Pacific, is being subducted beneath the Caribbean Plate along the Middle American Trench, passing under Central America as it is sinks into the Earth. As it is subducted the Cocos Plate is being partially melted by the heat of the planet's interior and the friction caused by its dragging under the Caribbean Plate, producing liquid magma, which then rises through the overlying plate fueling the volcanoes of Central America.

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