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Earth Science

Inside the Active Volcano On Montserrat 42

Roland Piquepaille writes "An international team of researchers has begun collecting imaging data on the Soufriere Hills Volcano in Montserrat, which has been erupting regularly since 1995. They're using the equivalent of a CAT scan to understand its internal structure and how and when it erupts. The experiment is dubbed SEA-CALIPSO and 'will use air guns and a string of sensors off the back of a research ship combined with sensors on land to try to image the magma chamber.' Early results are surprising. Quoting one of the leading scientists: 'The interesting thing is that much more magma is erupting than appears represented by the subsiding bowl. ... The magma volume in Montserrat eruptions is much larger than anyone would estimate from the surface deformation, because of the elastic storage of magma in what is effectively a huge magma sponge.'"
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Inside the Active Volcano On Montserrat

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  • by foobarb ( 659413 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @02:48AM (#26209333) [] Pictures and info about the volcano, official site.
  • by this great guy ( 922511 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:01AM (#26209369)
    Reporter: The magma volume in Montserrat eruptions is much larger than anyone would estimate and... oh! look at that burst of lava ! I have never seen anyth- OMG I FEEL THE EARTH RUMBLIN-
    Studio anchor: ... Charles ? Do you hear me ? *turning to his co-anchor* Is he still with us ?
  • by DeusExCalamus ( 1146781 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:20AM (#26209431)
    Better find an EVA unit complete with the D-Type armor, just in case there's an Angel lurking in the depths. :)
  • by zappepcs ( 820751 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @03:29AM (#26209459) Journal

    Does anyone else wish we could call the Enterprise back Earthside to do geologic surveys of this planet?

    Space travel is a good goal, but if you consider all the things that Star Trek presented as part of space travel, I'd be impressed if we started inventing them now to study THIS planet. Perhaps if we understood volcanoes better, we'd understand more about climate control for the planet and THAT would be a worthy goal. It's always good to hear there is money still for such research. Gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

  • Alas, conservation of mass is maintained in volcanic eruptions.
  • Been there.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MoellerPlesset2 ( 1419023 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @04:02AM (#26209569)
    It's a beautiful place, beautiful volcano too. Odd fact of the kind they tell tourists: It once erupted and killed everyone except a guy who was in jail in an underground cell.
    • by Bloater ( 12932 )

      I'm wasting my mod points now by posting, but I can't let that lie. A volcanic eruption that can kill everybody spouts vast quantities of CO2 - that's how it kills them - it suffocates them.

      The guy in prison would be the first to go because CO2 is heavier than air and would fill the gaol as soon as possible.

      • Well I don't want you to waste your points, asphyxiation is a side effect of a volcanic eruption. But if you think about it, who would live near a volcano without knowing that it could kill them? I am sure they are very aware that nature in this instance is deadly and climate change is real, not a gamble or an impossibility.

        Most people live either completely ignoring nature, trying to live in harmony with nature or they are even beholden to it and depend on their living and prosperity completely to sur
      • Re:Been there.. (Score:5, Informative)

        by Nil000 ( 927828 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @08:20AM (#26210441)
        This particular incident was the 1902 eruption of St. Pelee on Martinique which killed 30,000 people in Saint-Pierre. What killed everyone in this case was not CO2 but a Nuee Ardente or pyroclastic flow.,_Martinique [] There was a survivor who was in the town jail. There used to be some items from the town in the Natural History museum in London, including half molten glasses and bottles.
    • by dtmos ( 447842 ) on Tuesday December 23, 2008 @05:15AM (#26209779)

      Either you or the tour guide were very much mistaken. The famous story about the guy in the underground jail cell refers to the May 8, 1902 eruption of Mt. Pelée on Martinique [], a different volcano on a different island.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gomiam ( 587421 )
        And he wasn't the only survivor, just the publicized one.
        • When I visited Martinique, the local version was that the alleged sole survivor of Pelee (a prisoner in an underground cell) might well have been a con artist.

          1. In the days before he was "rescued", the heat would have penetrated the cell and killed him.

          2. He spent the following years touring with PT Barnum's circus, advertised as the sole survivor.

          The theory is that he was outside the blast area, and entered the cell after the blast before the searchers.

          The sad story of St Pierre is a good example

    • by pembo13 ( 770295 )
      Wrong island, you want Martinique, just south of Dominica.
  • The use of the CAT scan analogy is rather poor for several reasons. This study uses a typical ground and sea based seismic survey. There is a new move in the earth sciences to actually use portable MRIs (like this one [] [magritek - terranova]) to obtain images of the earth, so when I initially skimmed the article, I saw the CAT scan reference so many times that I thought they might be trying something similar.
    While seismology and cat scans share the basic purpose of remotely sensing the insides of an object
    • A "CAT scan" DID NOT reveal "inner workings of volcano island." A seismic survey did.

      Quick check - what does the CAT in "CAT scan" mean?
      Assisted (or Aided)

      CAT is a series of techniques where sensor imaging taken from a number of different angles are deconvolved to try to work out a parsimonious solution to the internal arrangement of parts that would generate the images actually seen.

      So, if the seismic survey(s) in question had been carried out along various different radii from the volcan

      • by i*i+1 ( 1414943 )
        "the "CAT" terminology in seismic processing was being accepted by the editors of 'Nature' over a decade ago." Perhaps, I guess I've just never heard anyone use the term in discussions (though I've only been in the field for about 3 years now). So I do concede that "CAT" terminology may be appropriate, but the article uses "CAT scan," which has a distinctly medical connotation.
  • The Police recorded their album "Ghost in the Machine" in a Montserrat studio.
    This video for "Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic" was shot there. []

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