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Missiles and Volcanoes

By David Stephen
Posted Jan 14, 2011 in Environment
Scientific advances have bolstered the International Airway Volcano Watch by increasing methods of forecasting volcanic eruptions; for example, weather radar helps to detect eruptions; detailed study of tephra or pyroclastic debris and their effect gives substantive information about past eruptions; the study of ash rich and SO2 rich lava gives more information to help manage eruptions incase of future occurrence.
These studies have moved us closer to understanding and approaching volcanic eruptions. For research towards solution, this note presents a novel and workable objective to halt volcanic eruption force.
Introducing this note is coming from the Volcanic Ash that disrupted flights over Europe for about six days in April, 2010 causing an estimated loss of about $2billion. If there was a scientific procedure to halt the eruption force, eruption duration will likely be reduced.
The procedure is to direct a missile-like object down the volcano throat to move fast against the spewing magma and hit the magma chamber at a high speed with hope to disrupt its force of ejection.
Rather than have a warhead like a missile, the object should have a very reactive element to disintegrate when it hits the magma in its chamber. With further scientific and technical review, this method should deliver as expected.
This research will provide alternative solutions to super volcanic eruptions to avoid mass destruction of lives and properties, health problems and flights cancellation in future especially at the time of an important event.
There maybe large volcanic eruptions in future, with a solution as this; science will provide an artificial approach to reduce spill duration rather than conventionally waiting for the eruption to cool.
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A volcano is a fissure in certain planet crust through which molten magma and gases erupt. Volcanoes are generally formed where tectonic plates are diverging or converging. A volcano can also be termed as a mountain formed by volcanic material.
Some volcanic mountains are: Super volcano, cinder cone, strato volcano and submarine volcano. Based on how frequent they erupt, volcanoes are classified into active, dormant and extinct. Magma is a molten rock in the earth crust usually spilled during volcanic eruptions; it is called lava when it reaches the surface.
Some effects of volcanoes are: acid rain, pollution and earthquake. Volcanic ash consists of tephra (bits of pulverized rock and glass), created by volcanic eruptions less than 0.079 inches in diameter.
There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact with water causing phreatomagmatic eruptions, and ejection of entrained particles during steam eruptions causing phreatic (or groundwater) eruptions.
The violent nature of volcanic eruptions involving steam results in magma and solid rock surrounding the vent being torn into particles of clay to sand size. Volcanic ash can lead to breathing problems and malfunctions in machinery. Ash deposited on the ground after an eruption is known as ash fall deposit.
Significant accumulations of ash fall can lead to the immediate destruction of most of the local ecosystem, as well the collapse of roofs on man-made structures. Over time, ash fall can lead to the creation of fertile soils. Ash fall can also become cemented together to form a solid rock. Over geologic time, the ejection of large quantities of ash can produce an ash cone.
A volcano in another description is a conical mountain spewing lava and poisonous gases. Pyroclast are composed of molten volcanic ash too heavy to go up into the atmosphere, so they hug the volcano's slopes and travel far from their vents during large eruptions.
Temperatures as high as 1,200 °C are known to occur in pyroclastic flows, which will incinerate everything flammable in their path and thick layers of hot pyroclastic flow deposits can be laid down, often up to many meters thick.
This missile-object procedure will not only control continuous ash spill, it will also reduce distance of pyroclastic flows. This procedure targets the volcano at the time of eruption. An alternate method to reach the magma chamber used previously was slanting a hole in from the side of the volcano. This came long after the volcano has cooled and is a better chance to get there; it however takes a longer time and is useful for studies of already cooled eruption.
The task is to send a missile-like object down a super volcano to hit erupting magma from its source (or chamber) at a high speed, this should instantaneously reduce the force with which magma is expelled. After impact, the object will dispel a reactive electropositive element expected to react with the contents of the magma chamber.
A certain gram of the dispelled element should react with some amount of gas producing a compound that will be comparatively harmless to the environment. The element should react with some ash particles causing them to be denatured and reduced.
Delivery Object
If a small container of water with an opening beneath is put on a small fountain, waves are displayed on the surface of the water obvious from the line of the fountain head, if a metal object is dropped into this container; it disrupts the waves and create its short-lived waves.
If we take the metal object as the missile-object and the fountain (force of eruption) & water-container (magma chamber); the little time of the object disrupting the force matters in reality. The scenarios are different, but the theory is based on creation and destruction of certain kind of waves in physics.
After the first successful impact, if about two more objects strike the surface, then the force (or fountain) source may begin to be severed, so that the object not only create new waves but halts the force of eruption. The missile-object to be used in this procedure will not have a warhead explosive like conventional missiles but an extremely reactive element.
The element will create something to do for the missile-object when it impacts the magma chamber. The little time the force is reduced after impact; the reactive element is dispelled for reaction with magma chamber contents to change their chemical and physical form. This will change ensuing lava and volcanic ash (if any) to compounds that will not hurt like they do.
The object is expected to move like a missile, launched from a launch facility or a launch pad. Radio waves or laser will guide it to its target, radiation may emanate from the object itself or from the launch facility. If it successfully hits the magma chamber, it may send long signals via radio waves to the launch facility.
Most magma chamber lie around 1-10km below ground level, when the object is launched, it is expected to head in vertically through the rough volcano throat to hit the magma chamber and create its own short lived waves.
After launch, radio waves will ensure it goes down through the direction of plume spew. If the approximate depth of the magma chamber is known, the object can use target system. The object may also need a flight system for guidance since the flight will use data from the target or guidance system to maneuver the object in flight allowing it to counter inaccuracies in the volcano or follow a moving (oncoming) target. This should be vectored thrust since the object will be powered throughout the guidance phase of its flight.
Since the object has a pointed edge, when it strikes the surface of the magma chamber, rather than disrupt waves, one may infer that it will go in unfelt. This will not happen, when the object strikes the surface at a very high speed, at the tip of impact, it creates some waves, as it moves farther, it creates more waves. The procedure may involve two or more missile-object for proper force disruption.
Horizontal impact when the missile approaches the tip of the volcano is unrealistic since magma chambers are relatively small. Rather than a pointed edge, as obtainable for rockets and missiles, the object may have a blunt head that will disrupt eruption force on impact.
Chemical Element
A very reactive chemical element will be used as the head (instead of warhead as in missiles), after object impact, the element will be dispelled to reduce the amount of gas and ash spewed to the surface.
The reduction of the force with which the plume is spewed after impact will prevent dispersed element of the object to be spewed. So reduced eruption force will make the elements react efficiently on a settled or settling molten rock.
The elements to be used are those high up in the electrochemical series, extremely electropositive elements that react with most elements or compounds. Potassium, Sodium, and Calcium are the options. Potassium would have been the most appropriate, but it reacts explosively with certain elements and compounds such as steam or ice, which are part content of magma chambers. Calcium is preferable since it produces compounds familiar with rock environments, calcium compounds are usually found in rocks. Calcium will cut emission of steam, ice, gases after it reacts with them.
Certain challenges are obvious from this procedure; this section provides answers to some of the challenges.
Volcanic Ash particles usually interfere with Jet Engines so how can the missile-object evade ash interference? The object will move heads down the volcano throat, it is expected that high speed emission from the rear of the object will prevent ash particles of the volcano to enter the engine.
When a missile engine hits hard on a surface, it explodes?
This should not occur in this case, since magma chambers are deep and the object will have a blunt edge, it is expected to hit the magma chamber to create waves and disrupt eruption force rather than explode on impact.
What are the likely present or future effects of having metal deposits far below ground level? Usually, present or past volcanic sites are abandoned because of the risk of future occurrence. Metal deposits from the object should settle by underground rocks so possibility of being spewed is lessened.
Eruption explosiveness comes from tremendous heat energy that cause rapid expansion of gas, mostly steam, how is it possible to get rid of heat and water? Before the object hits the magma chamber, it will encounter steam, after impact, reaction of heated water with the reactive element to form compounds different from the mixture of gases that expand will auspicate.
The object will be flying against a stone wind of ash in gas and then into upward flowing magma; does it mean that it will have to start swimming well before it gets to the magma chamber? The object will be designed specially to withstand such conditions and arrive at its expected end.
The conduit or crack that leads to the magma chamber from the volcano crater is not likely to be large and straight, how will the object fly there? This appears to be the greatest challenge facing this approach. Special objects of different design from the exact shape of a missile can be made for this; however, if the object strikes a rock on it way down, it may end its assignment there. Object designed will be extremely intelligent objects to ‘see’ through the conduit and obliquely move opposite the magma. Such an object is doable in today aeronautics. Lockheed Martin or Northrop Grumman advance technologies can enrich development of such objects sooner or later; with simulations and modeling in meetings with volcanologists or related experts, either of these manufacturers can come up with suitable technologies to make the object successful through its flight series to the magma chamber and at impact serving its purpose as desired.
The situation with erupting volcano is complex; this research is aimed at extricating that complexity to bring it within the limits of technology. Once the design of the missile object is right, this research is a solution.
The missile object may be smaller or shorter; the element may also be part of the entire body than just the head. A launch facility monitored digital material powered forcefully maybe sent through the conduit to see its shape, this should suggest how to direct the twisty object when on its mission to the magma chamber. Achievable is the sobriquet of this note.
This note contains technical terms; please see these pages for definitions;

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