Monitoring volcanoes - popular techniques

Volcanic eruptions are unpredictable, so volcanoes can be monitored to estimate when and where they are likely to erupt. A variety of techniques are used:

  • seismometers - measure the seismic waves occurring before and during an eruption
  • tiltmeters, GPS satellites and lasers - monitor any changes in landscape, since volcanoes tend to swell near an eruption
  • 'spider' robots - monitor gases escaping from a volcano, as there is often an increased release of sulphur dioxide near an eruption
  • thermometers - measure temperature as volcanoes become hotter when magma starts to rise through the main vent
  • chemical analysis of water in local rivers and lakes near volcanoes - as volcanoes release minerals which seep into the surface and ground water before and during an eruption
  • data analysis - by looking at the past history of eruptions to identify patterns of activity
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