Predicting volcanic eruptions

Predicting volcanic eruptions

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  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 01-04-13 13:19

Historic pattern of activity

Similar to seismic gap theory, look at the intervals between eruptions

  • if they are regular then it may be possible to find the average time between them ad calculate future eruptions
  • sequence of movement; are the eruptions moving north or south?
  • time between eruptions; the larger the gap the more explosive the eruption

It is VERY approximate, no reliability

Shown in eruptions in decade volcanos e.g. Vesuvius 

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Changes in ground level using tilt meters

Active volcanos expand in volume due to magma rising from below

An increase in steepness or bulging of a volcano's slope may signal an impending eruption

Tiltmetres are used to detect an increase in steepness of a volcano. They can measure a change in tilt of milemetres. 

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Satellite monitoring of volcano cone temperature

As magma rises, the cone of the volcano begins to heat up

The temperature increase is monitored by satellite

The satellite infrared heat sensors detect even the slightest change in surface temperature.

This is an early warning for many of the world's 600 active volcanos.

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Changes in gas composition and volume

Before a volcanic eruption, magma rises towards the surface. There is a reduction in pressure and therefore gases tend to escape.Increase in emissions before an eruption (but a decrease in gas emissions suggests a blocked vent)

As a result of this, sulpher dioxide and carbon dioxide emissions are continuously monitored on active or potentially active volcanoes

Escape of gases is related to supersaturation 

  • sulphur dioxide is the prominent volcanic gas
  • gases are supersaturated in the magma - normally the solvent magma would not be able to hold such high quantities, but under high temperature and pressure they are successfully dissolved.

Fumaroles (fume-holes)

  • sights of gas release on the slopes of any active volcanoes
  • before an eruption fumarole activity will increase greatly
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Precursor earthquake tremors

Seismomoters are used to monitor many volcanoes.

As magma rises the greater pressure forces aside fractured rock, enlarging the cracks as it rises.This creates a distinctive pattern of earthquake tremors called harmonic tremors. 

Foci get progressively shallower as magma rises. 

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