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Danger Mitigation to Get Easier with Satellites that can Detect Volcanos before an eruption

It is important to note that a volcano eruption is not as spontaneous as one would assume. After all, some things occur, which indicates volcanic activities. Hence one can tell that there are high chances of erupting. One of them is changes affecting the surfaces. In other cases, due to magma’s movement in the volcano, there are high chances of occurrences of small earthquakes. Equally important, one can tell if an eruption will occur by measuring any changes in the vents’ gas emissions. Once people are ken enough to notice these changes early enough, people are alerted, they leave the areas and save their lives.

However, it would be a mistake to say that the signs are always accurate and that all volcano eruptions are caught before they happen. An excellent example was Mount Ontake in Japan which erupted in 2014. It led to the loss of 60 lives since it occurred without any warning. Therefore, it goes without saying that the traditional signs are not enough. On the contrary, there is a need for advanced techniques to catch even the slightest signs of an upcoming volcano too early to save all lives. That’s why Jet Propulsion Laboratory conducted a related study. The group under Tarsilo Girona’s leadership showed that the already existing satellite data could come in handy. After all, it provides a way of getting eruptions warnings before they even happen.

To a greater extent, the warning will be based on heat, a common characteristic of volcano activity. If using thermometers, it can only capture temperatures of the areas they are in only. Instead of spots, the best strategy would be measuring heat from the volcano. Terra and Aqua satellites from NASA would come in handy since the combination will cover global coverage twice a day. Each of their measurements is based on a 1 km by 1km pixel, which is manageable.

From the collected data, it is clear that it could have helped warn people of five volcanoes so far since they occurred after their launch in 2002. They include Cape Verde’s Pico do Fogo, Alaska’s Redoubt, Chile’s Calbuco, New Zealand’s Ruapehu, and Japan’s Ontake. After all, they didn’t happen in areas too small to span pixels enough to capture a good signal. For each eruption, an increase in temperature was evident 2 to 4 years before it happened. Before the blast, the temperature increased by less than or 1 degree Celsius. Therefore, it was hard to predict an eruption unless you kept track of the temperature trends over a while.  Interestingly, the peak temperature in all the cases was associated with an eruption.

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