New Zealand researchers invent a new warning system for active volcanoes

New Zealand researchers invent a new warning system for active volcanoes

Scientists from New Zealand claim they have invented a system that can warn people on potential volcanic eruptions. The system aims to prevent future disasters in the wake of the White Island tragedy that killed 21 people in 2019.

Academics Shane Cronin and David Dempsey from the University of Auckland stated that their research has been able to depict patterns of seismic activity moments before a volcanic eruption occurs. From such their system can effectively predict and warn people of an upcoming eruption.

They also mentioned that if the new system had been implemented on White Island (aka Whakaari) last year, it would have alerted them 16 hours prior to the deadly eruption that had killed 21 people.

Cronin and Dempsey used past seismic and eruption data to develop machine learning algorithms. This allows the machine to look for patterns within all the past data and thus what happens prior to an eruption. They stated that the eruption that occurred last year had a seismic warning 17 hours before the actual eruption.

The warning started as a four hour rapid burst of activity. The researchers believe that this is magmatic fluid rising to add pressure to the liquids and gasses trapped in the rock above it.

Eventually this will lead to a burst such as the lid of a pressure cooker being blasted. The historic data analysed also allowed them to see warnings in the eruptions that occurred several years ago. The eruption in August 2013 had a similar reading 30 hours before it erupted. They were also able to gather some sort of data warning from two more eruptions that happened in 2012.

The promising work of the two has netted them a publication in the Nature Communications Journal.