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Careful analysis of volcano's plumbing system may give tips on pending eruptions


 Matt Swayne

July 25, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A volcano will not send out an official invitation when it’s ready to erupt, but a team of researchers suggest that scientists who listen and watch carefully may be able to pick up signs that an eruption is about to happen.

In a study of Hawaii's Kīlauea volcano, the researchers reported that pressure changes in the volcano’s summit reservoirs helped explain the number of earthquakes — or seismicity — in the upper East Rift Zone. This zone is a highly active region where several eruptions have occurred over the last few decades, including a spectacular one in 2018.

“We are interested in looking at the mechanisms that trigger seismicity at a very active and dynamic volcano, like Kīlauea Volcano in Hawaii,” said Christelle Wauthier, assistant professor of geosciences and Institute for CyberScience co-hire, Penn State. “There are several physical processes that can drive seismicity and, in this study, we were trying to find out which one was the most likely.” More

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