February 24th, 2011 | Uncategorized

Yale scientists predict volcanic explosions using sound waves

In what science blogger Anthony Watts called the “sound of ‘splode,” Yale scientists have found out how to use sound waves to predict violent volcano explosions.

Working with scientists at the University of British Columbia, geology and geophysics professor David Bercovici and his team created a model that judges the volatility of a volcano, using by the frequency of the sound that it emits.

The average volcano emits frequencies between 0.5 and 2 Hz. Minutes before an explosion that frequency jumps to a wider range between 0.5 and 7 Hz.

The sound is caused by the magma and gas within the volcano interaction, according to the model.

Scientists claim that this could help warn people before a violent explosion, but the model’s usefulness has been fiercely debated. Just a day after posting about the discovery, Watt’s science blog received 55 comments on the story.

“Is a minute’s warning enough for people living near an explosive volcano?” asked one commenter.