(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.