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New Method That Detects Bulges In Volcanoes Can Be Used To Predict Eruptions

First Posted: Jun 30, 2017 05:10 AM EDT

A new technique to measure the pressure inside volcanoes has been developed by a research team from the U.K.’s University of Cambridge. The technique, called seismic noise interferometry, has reportedly been found to be a reliable indicator to predict future volcanic eruptions.

According to the University of Cambridge, the method along with geophysical measurements can be used to measure the energy traveling through a volcano. The research team found that a good correlation is present at the speed that the energy is traveling at and the bulging and shrinking amount seen in the rock. Subsequently, the researchers feel that the technique can be used to predict eruptions more accurately.

To conduct the study that has been published in the journal Science Advances, the U.S. Geological Survey collected data across the very active Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii. It has a bubbling lake of lava just under its summit.

The research team took the help of sensors to measure the relative differences in the velocity of seismic waves traveling through the volcano over time, during a four-year period. The experts then did a comparison of the results with a second set of data that measured the small differences in the angle of the volcano over the same duration. Incidentally, Kīlauea is one of the most studied volcanoes in the world due to its high activity volume.

The researchers said that they want to know whether the seismic velocity changes indicate increasing pressure in the volcano because volcanoes bulge out before an eruption. This is important for forecasting an eruption.

“This is the first time that we have been able to compare seismic noise with deformation over such a long duration, and the strong correlation between the two indicates that this could be a new way of predicting volcanic eruptions,” paper's author Clare Donaldson said.

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