Methods for Monitoring Volcanoes

In class we have learned about many different methods used to monitor volcanoes. We have learned that earthquakes can tell us if there is any shift in the magma beneath the earth that causes minor earthquakes. The earthquakes are almost always a sign that an eruption in eminent. When the magma moves through the magma chamber it causes rocks to fracture and break, when these rocks break and and pressure is released, earthquakes happen. Most of these earthquakes are less than a 2 or 3 in magnitude and can occur hundreds to thousands of times before the volcano actually erupts. This seismic activity is measured on a seismograph. The seismograph measures the vibrations of the earth. There is a needle that moves back and forth measuring the extent on every minute vibration of the earth.
Deformation is another way that volcanoes are monitored. Many volcanoes, especially composite volcanoes, begin to bulge out where the magma begins to build up. This is usually a sign that a major explosive eruption is about to take place. Scientists us GPS to help identify if there is any change in the surface of the earth. Scientist also measure the tilt of the landscape which is the slop or angle of the ground. This can tell you if there is a major change in the shape of the magma chamber beneath the earth. InSAR is also used to measure deformation. InSAR is a remote sensing technique that measure the deformation of the surface of the earth through satellite imagery. InSAR stands for Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar which basically means measuring deformities in the earth surface.
Just recently scientist have come up with a new way to monitor volcanoes, and that is through gas emissions. Increasing gas emissions can be an indicator that there is increased magmatic activity in the volcano. This method records the total amount of gas that has been emitted, whereas other methods just record the concentration of gas at a specific point. This makes this data much more accurate. The gas that is being emitted by the volcano is generally sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide. As the levels of these gases rise the closer the volcano is to eruption. Knowing how much gas is being released can also help determine climatic models for these areas. The change in these gases can cause changes in weather. Not only that but an eruption can cause a major climate change and being able to predict those changes can greatly improve the survival rate of those people that live around the volcanoes. Using these techniques we can better understand the ways in which volcanoes work and save lives in the future.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/03/090312093704.htm

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2 Responses to Methods for Monitoring Volcanoes

  1. amelianavarro says:

    I did not know that scientists could monitor volcanoes via gas emissions. This seems like a great idea, though, because it is so much more accurate, and it provides a wider range of data.

  2. mattgwilt says:

    I’m guessing this goes along with the idea that volcanoes with higher viscosity are more explosive because the gas builds up under the slow moving lava. Pretty neat that scientists can get that info based off gas emissions.

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