Scientists have come up with what may be a novel way to monitor the activity of volcanoes, and it is by listening to the music that emanates from them. Researchers have been able to listen to infrasound recordings from the Cotopaxi volcano in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador to determine just how these sounds changed after eruptions that occurred in 2015.
As Phys.org reported, after the eruptions occurred at Cotopaxi, the shape of its crater changed markedly, and its narrowness meant that air surged along the walls of the crater whenever there were rumblings.
The sound waves that were created because of this sounded very much like those that would normally come from a pipe organ, according to Boise State University volcanologist Jeff Johnson.
“It’s the largest organ pipe you’ve ever come across,” he explained.
According to the new study conducted on the music of volcanoes, the shape of their craters determines the different sounds that they will produce, and learning to pinpoint each volcano’s signature sound is the best way for scientists to truly understand the changes that are happening inside. In theory, this could potentially be a lifesaver when it comes to detecting whether a volcano has the potential to erupt at a certain time, as Johnson noted.
“Understanding how each volcano speaks is vital to understanding what’s going on. Once you realize how a volcano sounds, if there are changes to that sound, that leads us to think there are changes going on in the crater, and that causes us to pay attention.”
It is now being suggested that eruptions at the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii could be the perfect place to test just how the music of volcanoes changes during these times. For instance, with the lava lake in Hawaii going through a draining process, the infrasounds along the crater should be changing.
By listening to these infrasounds at Kilauea, scientists may potentially be able to track and better understand the depth of the magma so that those nearby can be warned about future eruptions, according to University of Alaska Fairbanks volcanologist David Fee.
“It’s really important for scientists to know how deep crater is, if the magma level is at the same depth and if it’s interacting with the water table, which can create a significant hazard.”
The new research on the music that volcanoes makes marks the first time that scientists have been able to record anything coming from a volcano at such a low frequency.
The new study on how volcano music may be able to signal potential eruptions and other changes in volcanoes can be read in Geophysical Research Letters.