Audio slideshow: Volcano visitors

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As Chile's Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano has proved in recent days, these open scars on the Earth's crust that throw out molten lava, ash and gases can be hazardous and deadly. But painstaking work is going on to try to help us understand how volcanoes behave.

Dr Tamsin Mather from the University of Oxford is part of such a team trying to take the pulse of the planet. She is revealing her research at this year's Cheltenham Science Festival - and here explains how she is trying to unlock the secrets of the world's volcanoes.

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The Times Cheltenham Science Festival runs between the 7-12 June 2011.

Images subject to copyright - click 'show captions' for details. Maps courtesy The Geological Society of America and Bing Maps.

Music courtesy KPM Music. Slideshow production by Paul Kerley. Publication date 9 June 2011.

Related:

Volcano clips and facts from BBC Science

Department of Earth Sciences - University of Oxford

The Geological Society of America

The Times Cheltenham Science Festival 2011

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