USGS volcano seismologist, Seth Moran, describes how seismology and seismic networks are used to mitigate volcanic hazards. One of the important parts of his job is satisfying the USGS’ mission of mitigating hazards, mitigating the effects of hazards. And so one of the primary ways that we do that is to provide warning to folks who are living in harms way or near volcanoes that might be impacted by an eruption.
At volcanoes when magma is moving through the earth it makes noise. It breaks rock, it moves the volcano and almost always there’s usually seismic unrest, that’s a part of that. And so the job of the volcano seismic network is to be able to detect all of the possible signs and symptoms that might be pointing towards magma moving toward the surface and getting closer to eruption.
One of the tools of volcano seismology is the seismic network. We need to have seismometers out in the field recording the signs and symptoms of the volcano that might or might not be restless. And so a seismic network typically consists of anywhere between one and twenty seismic sensors and one of the clear lessons over the last twenty or thirty years is the more sensors the better. And that gives you a lot more capabilities to do a better job of interpreting seismic signals. Those seismometers are out in the field; they’re attached to radio systems that are beaming the data back to our offices here or to the offices of our partners up at the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network at the University of Washington.
Featured image, caption and video: USGS
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