A new methodology , based on a subtle but significant increase in heat emissions over large areas of a volcano in the years before its eruption , can predict these events well in advance. This allows you to see that a volcano has reawakened, often long before the other signs appear.
The new method has been developed using satellite data by scientists from NASA and the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
For various types of volcanoes that have erupted in the past two decades, the study team analyzed 16 1/2 years of radiant heat data from Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometers (MODIS) aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites of NASA .
Despite the differences between the volcanoes, the results were consistent: in the years before an eruption, the radiating surface temperature of much of the volcano increased by about 1 degree Celsius from its normal state. It decreased after each eruption.
In particular, scientists believe that increased heat may result from the interaction between magma deposits and hydrothermal systems. As explained by study co – author Paul Lundgren of JPL (Jet Propulsion Laboratory):
Volcanoes are like a box of mixed chocolates: they may look similar, but inside there is a lot of variety between them and sometimes even within it. On top of that, only a few volcanoes are well monitored, and some of the most potentially dangerous volcanoes are the ones that erupt less frequently, meaning that historical records cannot be strictly trusted.