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Can volcanic eruptions be predicted?

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Elissa Gutmann
December 10, 2019 10:05PM

There are precipitating factors that can be used to predict a volcanic eruption, including the volcano’s history, how long since its last eruption, and the usual amount of time between eruptions. Other signs include an increased number of earthquakes and a certain level of gas emissions which can be measured via satellite. However, similar to meteorology, there is an inherent level of uncertainty, and the time and severity of an eruption is very difficult to predict.

In the case of the 1980 Mt. St. Helens eruption, the preemptive warnings included earthquakes and steam explosions in the months leading up to the blast, prompting the U.S. Forest Service to evacuate people from near the volcano. Although 57 people died, roughly 20,000 were more than likely saved by the evacuations, according to volcanologist William Rose.

Alternatively, when the 2019 White Island eruption happened in New Zealand, there were few warning signs. Although a rise in volcanic tremors caused the alert level to be raised from 1 to 2 in the weeks before the eruption, this isn’t an unusual occurrence and usually doesn’t mean a devastating eruption is imminent. "We don't normally see these eruptions coming, no matter how much we would like to," stated Earth scientist Shane Cronin of the blast.

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Mehul Raj Garg
December 17, 2019 12:56PM
yes they can we be predicted when there is shaking of land near volcano when smoke clouds come out ok the opening
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Glenn Monson
December 13, 2019 1:27PM
In short NO, now I'm sure you'll hear all about predictions. from evidence co2 minor tremors, volcanic tuft etc etc etc. and they literally are signs of a up coming earthquake. But all to often the pressure can ne released many other ways horst and greaben structures, tectonic plate movement they are all to erratic, Mammoth Ca. has had co2 leaking in and around the area since before 1996 and still no big one. The most accurate I've heard of would be for a super volcano and caldera known as Yellowstone, although its a horse of a diffdrent color and is a hot spot super volcano. Its eruptions can literally be seen and counted by the calderas left behind. Yellowstone and Hawaii are both a diffeferent kind of volcanism the tectonic plates they sit on move, and pretty much at a steady rate, as they move the move over a hot spot in the mantle from radioactive decay. In the case of Hawaii you get a chain of islands, with Yellowstone you get calderas and probably an extinct level event since it is rhyolitic (silica rich it creates and explosion and what an explosion. You can find a layer of ash from the last eruptioh some 600,00m years ago all the way in California, which means it must have reached the atmosphere bypassing the trade winds and likely blocked out the sun. Anyway these plate move at pretty regular intervals and can be verified by the distance and uniformaty. The problem is the intervals are roughly 600,000m years the last one was almost 600,000 years ago.
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