Model to predict volcanic eruptions

February 24th, 2011 - 3:36 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Feb 24 (IANS) As explosive volcanoes produce tremors at similar frequencies for minutes, days or weeks before they erupt, researchers have developed a way to predict these eruptions.A model developed by researchers at Yale University and the University of British Columbia (UBC) may help forecast deadly eruptions.

Erupting volcanoes can shoot hot ash up to 40 km high and cause devastating destruction when the ash column collapses, the journal Nature reports.

“Tremor is very mysterious, most notably because it shakes at pretty much the same frequency in almost every explosive volcano, whether it’s in Alaska, the Caribbean, New Zealand, or Central America,” said David Bercovici, professor of geology and geophysics at Yale, and study co-author.

“That it’s so universal is very weird because volcanoes are so different in size and character. It would be like blowing on five different musical wind instruments and having them all sound the same,” he said, according to a Yale University statement.

For minutes to weeks before eruptions, tremors in nearly all volcanoes stay in a narrow band of frequencies from about 0.5 to 2 Hertz (Hz).

Just before and during the eruption, the frequency climbs to a higher pitch, and the range spreads out between 0.5 and 7 Hz. Hertz is a unit of frequency of one cycle per second.

“Explosive eruptions are some of the most spectacular and destructive phenomena in nature, and tremor is both a warning of the event and a vital clue about what is going on in the belly of the beast,” Bercovici said.

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