Science Finds Volcanoes "Scream" Before Erupting

Science Finds Volcanoes "Scream" Before Erupting

Volcano

According to a new discovery by volcanologists, the frequency of pre-eruption earthquakes and other seismic activity could provide early warning that a mountain is about to blow its top.

Scientists have long known that prior to a volcanic eruption, there is a notable increase in seismic activity in and around the volcano. New research however, has determined that as time passes and the eruption grows more imminent, this seismic activity increases in frequency. It starts as a low rumble, akin to a slow drum beat, then gradually speeds up as tremors build in intensity. This raucous noise continues to grow in speed and intensity until just before the eruption, at which point it becomes completely silent.

How do volcanologists explain this subterranean cacophony? Simply put, it's a symptom of increasing pressure. "The frequency of this tremor is unusually high for a volcano," states Alicia Hotovec-Ellis, a doctoral student from the University of Washington who is part of a team studying Alaska's Redoubt volcano.

"Because there's less time between each earthquake, there's not enough time to build up enough pressure for a bigger one. After the frequency glides up to a ridiculously high frequency, it pauses and then it explodes," she says.

And that "scream" we mentioned in the headline? That wasn't simple poetic license. The research team at Redoubt sped up seismological records from just prior to an eruption to sixty times its normal rate, and at this increased speed scientists report that the noise sounds like a high-pitched scream.

Dr Marie Edmonds of the University of Cambridge explains the significance of this finding to the BBC: "This work is probably the most intensive treatment of this phenomenon," she claims.

"The question that arises is whether you can ever get these sorts of patterns without an eruption following?"

"We had repetitive sequences of volcanic explosions in the Caribbean island of Montserrat in 1997 and 2003 which were preceded by similar tremors, with hybrid earthquakes that were periodic and then recurrence intervals decreased with time before the explosion. People are converging on a view on how magmas behave."

While we obviously don't know exactly how volcanoes work, there's a hope that by recognizing patterns like this noise, we might be able to better prepare for our planet's periodic tendency to spray superheated gases and magma into the open air. If the ground screaming at you to leave the area isn't enough impetus to seek out safer climes, then you're a lost cause.

Source: BBC

Permalink

You mean it's not caused by a guy whose mad enough to climb a mountain just so he can scream at the world (before exploding like an A-bomb?)

Like passing a Kidney stone I bet.

Nice, I've gone up a few volcanoes (Stromboly, Etna, Vesuvius, Nisyros, Vulcano,...) and I always felt a certain uneasiness about them. A type of fearful respect for the awesome powers slumbering underneath the soil. Even in dormant volcanoes the whole thing is quite impressive.

People should heed the warnings and be careful when living near one, losing your fear of the powerful forces of nature often ends up with them getting you when you least expect it. Volcanoes are a rare type of that ofc, but as a regular sailor I know all too well that you should never lose your respect.

It sounds more like a fart. Like the volcano had too much kebab.

Interesting timing. Just finished reading a book that talked about another type of seismic signal associated with pressure build-up before an eruption. The trouble is, sometimes these signals occur before eruptions, and sometimes they occur without an eruption. In any case, they don't provide much information on how big the eruption will be. As suggested in the article, that may be a problem with this new signal.

Nice to see that there's one more bit of data that can help with forecasting. Hopefully it will be reliable.

I usually scream before erupting. Hehe, sex joke!

In the real zone now, is this going to stir up the newagers who think the planet is a living organism and that volcano screams are scream of pain, so we should all eat vegan food and sacrifice the occasional virgin to appease the volcano spirits? Possibly buying a couple of crystals and a dreamcatcher on the way home.

Personally I kind of hope they keep fiddling with the audio and it ends up sounding like "SHE'S GONNA BLOOOOOOW!"

According to a new discovery

new discovery..... we knew this in the 90s..... seismic activity goes up before eruption. well maybe we didnt record the high frequency pich sounds because, you know, we were more busy evacuating local inhabitants......

also this is todays capcha:
image

Well, that's disturbing.

Useful as fuck, if we can nail it down it'll provide an early warning system.

but still...disturbing terminology there.

CriticalMiss:
In the real zone now, is this going to stir up the newagers who think the planet is a living organism and that volcano screams are scream of pain, so we should all eat vegan food and sacrifice the occasional virgin to appease the volcano spirits? Possibly buying a couple of crystals and a dreamcatcher on the way home.

Don't be silly - you know vegans would never condone such activity. They'd maybe sacrifice a carrot or a nice head of cauliflower, if they got the organism's permission first.

Then there's the issue of them mustering the energy to cart this item up to the top of the volcano; no mean feat.

I'm just kidding vegans, I love ya.

I'm studying to be a volcanologist myself and it has been common knowledge to "Get the hell out of dodge" when the tremors become more frequent and violent. The scream is probably from gases escaping through small cracks in the rock, like letting air out of a balloon.

Interesting read, but not really 'news' because we knew all that when Mt Saint Helens blew itself apart.

 

Reply to Thread

Log in or Register to Comment
Have an account? Login below:
With Facebook:Login With Facebook
or
Username:  
Password:  
  
Not registered? To sign up for an account with The Escapist:
Register With Facebook
Register With Facebook
or
Register for a free account here