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Study of Redoubt and other volcanoes improves unrest detection

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Volcanologists do what they can to provide the public enough warning about impending eruptions, but volcanoes are notoriously unpredictable. Alerts are sometimes given with little time for people to react.
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That may soon change.

Work led by research assistant professor Társilo Girona, with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Geophysical Institute, has revealed a method by which scientists—and the public—can have perhaps years of advance warning about a potential eruption.

The solution lies in regular and widespread monitoring of the radiant temperature of a volcano's flanks before the appearance of any of the usual warning signs, such as glacier melting, sulfur odors, increased gas emissions, quaking and deformation.

Girona is the lead author of a paper published today in the journal Nature Geosciences titled "Large-Scale Thermal Unrest of Volcanoes for Years Prior To Eruption." The paper is co-authored by Vincent Realmuto and Paul Lundgren, research scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Lundgren supervises JPL's Earth Surface and Interior Group.

"This is showing that very large areas in the volcanoes are increasing the release of heat," Girona said. "It's a process which is going on in, we cannot say in the whole volcano itself, but in very large areas in the volcano. It's a large-scale process."

Girona also works with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, which is evaluating how best to integrate the research findings into its monitoring of Alaska volcanoes. The AVO is a cooperative organization among UAF, the U.S. Geological Survey and the Alaska Division of Geological and Geophysical Surveys.

David Fee, AVO coordinating scientist at UAF, said the findings can bolster volcano monitoring. That's important for the airline industry,…
Science X staff
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