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Infrasound monitoring for Marianas volcanoes 26 February 2010

Posted by admin in Pacific, United States, volcano monitoring.
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Left: Pagan volcano erupting, 18 May 1981. Right: Anatahan erupting, 16 June 2003. (Both images courtesy USGS.)
Left: Pagan erupting, 18 May 1981. Right: Anatahan erupting, 16 June 2003. (Both images courtesy USGS.)

A new programme in the Northern Marianas Islands will use infrasound technology alongside conventional seismometers and other equipment to monitor the archipelago’s active volcanoes. The partners behind the project to enhance volcano monitoring in the Marianas are the Northern Marianas Commonwealth Government, the U. S. Geological Survey and Southern Methodist University (SMU). SMU scientists have been responsible for the application of infrasound to the detection of nuclear explosions in order to monitor test ban compliance.

The project chief, Professor James Quick, explains that infrasound used alongside conventional monitoring techniques will add a new dimension to the interpretation of volcanic signals: ‘My hope is that we’ll see some distinctive signals in the infrasound that will allow us to discriminate the different kinds of eruptive styles — from effusive events that produce lava flows, or small explosive events we call vulcanian eruptions, to the large “Plinian” events of particular concern to aviation. They are certain to have some characteristic sonic signature’.

The planned development of the Marianas as a forward deployment base for the United States military has given particular urgency to the improvement of volcano monitoring in the archipelago.

Volcanic eruptions produce much more sound than human ears can detect – in particular, they are prolific and efficient radiators of low-frequency sound, in the infrasonic bandwith below the threshold of human hearing. These low-frequency sounds are detectable at great distances and are little affected by passage through the atmosphere. Volcano monitoring using infrasound offers several benefits:

  • It is unaffected by inclement weather, darkness and poor visibility.
  • It offers the potential for a detailed understanding of internal volcanic dynamics in both eruptive and non-eruptive states.
  • It avoids the complication of variations in local conditions and monitoring arrangements, making comparisons between different volcanoes easier.
  • It can be used to clarify and interpret obscure and enigmatic seismicity.

More information about volcanic infrasound monitoring can be found at the INFRAVOLC site run by New Mexico Tech.

USGS-SMU volcano monitoring will target hazard threat to Marianas, U.S. military and commercial jets – SMU News Release, 24 February 2010*

Global Volcanism Program: Anatahan – information about Anatahan (0804-20=)
Global Volcanism Program: Pagan – information about Pagan (0804-17=)
Northern Mariana Islands volcanic activity – from the Marianas government
North Pacific Volcanic Islands – information from the USGS

* Lots of detail in the news release, but it contains two Wikipedia links, ugh. A reputable university should know better.

The Volcanism Blog

U.S. stimulus funds for volcano monitoring 17 August 2009

Posted by admin in natural hazards, United States, volcano monitoring.
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In the United States, some $15.2 million of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money is being directed via the United States Geological Survey to improving volcano monitoring. So, all this money is sloshing about: how’s it going to be spent? Here’s how (and where):

Alaska: $7.56 million is going to the Alaska Volcano Observatory to improve monitoring at Redoubt, Augustine and Spurr volcanoes, enhance scientific research and improve public outreach and communication.

California: the Long Valley Volcano Observatory will get $200,000 to enhance monitoring of the Long Valley Caldera.

Hawaii: the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will be investing $3.3 million in upgrading and renewing Big Island volcano monitoring instruments – improving seismic networks and deformation sensors and installing meteorological and SO2 monitoring equipment.

Northern Marianas: $800,000 is going to be spent in the Northern Mariana Islands on upgrading seismic and SO2 monitoring systems at Anatahan and Sarigan.

Washington: the Cascades Volcano Observatory is to receive $2.4 million to upgrade volcano monitoring systems.

Wyoming: $950,000 will be spent by the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory on upgrading seismic and other monitoring networks within the Yellowstone National Park and developing communication systems and ‘alarming capabilities’.

Recovery funding for Yellowstone and other volcano observatories to improve monitoring and public safety – news release from the U.S. Department of the Interior, 13 August 2009

$800K to monitor CNMI volcanoesPacific Daily News, 15 August 2009
$3.3M stimulus funds to monitor Hawaii volcanoes – KPUA Hawaii News, 16 August 2009
Alaska Volcano Observatory to receive millions of dollars – Radio Kenai, 17 August 2009
Volcano studies get boostHonolulu Star-Bulletin, 17 August 2009
$15.2M to enhance volcano watch in CNMI, othersSaipan Tribune, 17 August 2009
Wash. to get $2.4 million for Cascades Volcano Observatory – King5.com, 17 August 2009
Northern Marianas may get benefit from spend on volcano monitoring – Radio New Zealand, 17 August 2009

The Volcanism Blog

USGS/Chile collaboration in volcano monitoring 25 June 2008

Posted by admin in Chaitén, Chile, natural hazards, volcano monitoring.
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With the Chaitén eruption still very much an ongoing event, the United States Geological Survey is working with partners in Chile to improve Chilean volcano monitoring and early warning systems. A press release about the USGS/Chile collaboration can be found in the USGS Newsroom. There’s also a CoreCast in which USGS scientists John Pallister, John Ewert and Andy Lockhart talk about their work, present and future, in Chile.

UPDATE: here’s the volcanological professional’s view at Erik Klemetti’s Eruptions blog, while this earlier NOVA Geoblog post about volcano monitoring in the United States is also very relevant.

The Volcanism Blog

Cascades Volcano Observatory: possible move to WSUV? 6 May 2008

Posted by admin in miscellaneous, United States, volcano monitoring, volcanology.
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‘Volcano observatory could make a seismic shift to WSUV’ reports The Columbian on 4 May, employing some of the brilliantly clever headline wordplay that makes local newspaper journalism such a ceaseless delight. The suggestion is that the USGS’s Cascades Volcano Observatory, currently situated in ‘a nondescript business park’ in east Vancouver, would move to Washington State University‘s ‘sprawling campus in Salmon Creek’. The advantages to both the observatory and the university, in terms of locating a world-class scientific facility in the heart of a teaching- and research-active university community, are clear. No move will happen, however, until the CVO’s current lease comes to an end in 2012.

One of the many benefits of the move to WSUV, notes the report,  would be that ‘scientists working in the observatory could peek up from their desks and observe at least three volcanoes directly — St. Helens, Adams and Hood’.

The Volcanism Blog