(ORDO NEWS) — By listening to the changing pitch, scientists can track the movement of magma inside the crater.
An international team of scientists from the University of Canterbury, the Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, and Boise State University have developed a simulation tool that uses sound waves to estimate volcanic activity .
“Explosions at the top of the magma column cause sound waves that bounce off the top of the crater – just like inside a trombone, but on a much larger scale.
As magma rises in the crater, the distance between the top of the magma column and the top of the crater decreases. This leads to an increase in the pitch of the sound,” said volcanologist Layton Watson.
“By listening to the changing pitch, we can track the movement of magma inside the crater. This could provide hours of warning before an eruption, which could be essential for those who live near or visit active volcanoes.”
Watson and colleagues examined these volcanic melodies at Mount Etna, an active volcano in Sicily, Italy, where eruptions occur frequently and lava erupts more than 1 km above the summit.
According to Watson, this model is for a volcano where there is a direct connection between the magma supply system, the lava lake and the atmosphere.
New Zealand is home to two of the most dangerous volcanoes, Ruapehu and Wakaari, which have crater lakes containing water between the magma and the air above.
Geological scientists are already using infrasonic sensors to “listen” to volcanic activity, so researchers are interested to see if the model they have developed can be adapted to these systems.
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