EARTH: Santiaguito Volcano's Clockwork Behavior Provides an Exceptional Laboratory

EARTH Magazine

From EARTH Magazine  --  If Earth breathes, Santiaguito Volcano in the Western Highlands of Guatemala could be its mouth. Roughly every half hour, like volcanic clockwork, Santiaguito's active Caliente lava dome expands, filling with gas from depressurizing magma below. Then it exhales, often explosively, and deflates. Over the course of a day, you could almost keep time by it.

In 2012, a scientific team led by volcanologist Jeffrey Johnson of Boise State University set up a base camp to conduct two field studies of Santiaguito's rhythm, part of an ongoing interdisciplinary study. The initial results, reported in a new paper accepted in Geophysical Research Letters (doi:10.1002/2014GL061310) and detailed in the October EARTH, show promise that such integrated geophysical deployments could foretell episodic explosive eruptions.

Follow along as the author and his colleagues set off on an adventure to study an erupting Guatemalan volcano up close in the October issue of EARTH magazine.

For more stories about the science of our planet, check out EARTH magazine online or subscribe at The October issue, now available on the digital newsstand, features stories on K-12 students sending experiments to the international space station, on how climate change is impacting coffee, nectarines, wine and other favorite foodstuffs, and on methane lingering long after the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, plus much, much more.

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