The 'magma symphony' could help predict volcanic eruptions
Mount Etna in southern Italy is Europe's most active volcano.
Volcanologists say the inaudible rumbling sound coming from the bowels of a volcano could help predict its eruption, providing endangered residents with a warning.
A team studying infrasound – sounds too low in frequency for humans to hear – emitted by volcanoes like Mount Etna in Italy have found that magmatic rumblings change noticeably at the height of the volcano. approaching an eruption.
When the magma explodes, the sound waves reverberate in the crater and as in an instrument of the brass family, a trombone for example, one gets some grades, explained Leighton Watson, a researcher at the University of Canterbury who was part of the multinational team.
As the magma rises, the note changes, like the movement of a trombone arm, he described to AFP.
Before Mount Etna ejected its smoke and ash into the air in February 2021, its melody had begun to change.
The peak frequency increased , increased and increased, and the reason for this was that the magma was rising in the crater.
By determining which notes correspond to each level of magma, predictions could be made about eruptions at come.
Watson and the team of scientists based in Italy and the United States estimate that the notes could possibly give several hours notice before an eruption.
Current methods Monitoring magma levels involves flying over or climbing the crater in a helicopter to take measurements inside, both of which are dangerous and expensive and cannot be done all the time.
< p class="e-p">The new method requires probes that can be placed miles away from the volcano.
The group's results, published this week in the journal Scientific Reports, show that there is still a long way to go before forecasts are reliable. And the method does not work for all volcanoes.
In addition to Etna, Piton de la Fournaise in Reunion, Kilauea in Hawaii or Villarrica in Chile are all candidates for further study.