Friday, June 16, 2017

Science & Technology: Predicting Volcanic Activity by Measuring Gas Levels

Can Volcanic Gas Levels Predict an Eruption? (EOS)

Researchers test whether the changing composition of volcanic gas can signal a coming eruption in Chile’s Villarrica volcano.

Gas wafts from the summit crater of Chile’s Villarrica volcano. Researchers placed instruments on the crater’s rim to measure gas emissions to find out if such data can be used to predict eruptions. Credit: Gerben van Heijningen, CC BY-NC 2.0
Before a volcano erupts, there are usually signs of what’s to come; small earthquakes, heat emission, and ground swelling, to name a few, have all been observed to precede eruptions. Volcanologists also monitor the changing composition of gas emissions at volcanoes in the months leading up to an eruption. However, precursory variations in gas have not yet been verified to occur in volcanoes hosting active lava lakes.

To find out if volcanic gas emissions might also be used to predict eruptions at lava lake–hosting, carbon-poor volcanoes, Aiuppa et al. looked at Chile’s Villarrica volcano. Villarrica towers 2847 meters over the town of the same name; magma bubbles and spatters in an open-vent lava lake at its peak.
  • A CO2-gas precursor to the March 2015 Villarrica volcano eruption. Alessandro Aiuppa, et al. DOI: 10.1002/2017GC006892G3: Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Read More........

(Thanks to GRC Member Marcelo Lippmann, Staff Scientist (retired) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory for the submission.)