Earthquakes and Natural Disasters / Technology

Probing Mount St. Helens

Great article in Nature talking about how scientists are setting off explosions (mini-quakes if you will) around Mount St. Helens in Washington State to try and get a better understanding of what exactly is going on with the magma.

In one of the biggest-ever seismology deployments at an active volcano, researchers are peppering Mount St Helens in Washington state with equipment to study the intricate system of chambers and pipes that fed the most devastating eruption in US history. This month, they will even set off explosions to generate their own seismic waves. The work could inform research into how volcanoes work throughout the Pacific Northwest and in similar geological settings around the world.

Researchers have already explored magma structures beneath volcanoes such as Italy’s Etna and Vesuvius, and an ongoing multidisciplinary project in the Andes targets two volcanoes in Bolivia and Chile where the ground has been rising for about two decades. But the Mount St Helens study is unique because it aims to produce a three-dimensional picture all the way through and beneath the volcano. If all goes well, it may probe as much as 80 kilo­metres underground — deep enough for scientists to visualize the mountain’s geological origins.

I’m hoping this study produces a wealth of information and does not trigger a catastrophic eruption. (Just LOL’ing people, there is no way they can trigger a catastrophic eruption)