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BRIEF: Patterns Hidden in Volcanic Activity Could Be the Key to Predicting Future Eruptions

BRIEF: Patterns Hidden in Volcanic Activity Could Be the Key to Predicting Future Eruptions

Could this repeated signal be new tool for predicting earthquakes from volcanic activity?


Hot lava at Erta Ale Volcano.

Image credits:

 Indrik Myneur via Flickr

Rights information:

http://CC BY-SA 2.0

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 - 10:45

Emilie Lorditch, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- When researchers at Bionerics Research, based in Spain's Canary Islands, noticed a specific waveform pattern beneath one of the islands, El Hierro, they wondered if they could find this same pattern under other types of volcanoes and in other locations around the world such as Mount Etna.

The team collaborated with volcanologists and disaster management experts from the U.S., Spain, Italy and Japan while looking at worldwide volcanic activity from 2011-2012.

What makes the El Hierro pattern unique is that it follows the same shape over various time scales (from a few weeks to months) like a fractal. Using this pattern and its resulting resonance allowed the researchers to make predictions about future earthquakes in the upcoming weeks and months.

The group of researchers plan to continue to study this waveform pattern and hope to be able to refine it for use around the world to predict volcanic phenomena such as earthquakes, gas emission and cone deformation.

The researchers presented their findings this week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco.


Editor's note (December 16, 2016): This story has been updated to correct the location of Bionerics Research. We regret the error.


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Author Bio & Story Archive

Emilie Lorditch is the former Assistant News Director at AIP.