Washington, Oct 26 : Scientists have simulated the seismic signals that precede a volcanic eruption for the first time and created a 3-D visualization of those warning signs under controlled conditions, which could help save lives in case of an actual catastrophe.
According to a report in Newswise, the simulation has been made by an international team working out of the University of Toronto's (U of T's) Rock Fracture Dynamics Facility in Canada.
By performing tests on basalt rock from Sicily's still-active volcano Mt. Etna, the team was able to record the seismic waves generated during the earthquakes that occur before volcanic eruptions.
"Nearly 500 million people live close enough to the planet's 600 currently active volcanoes that they face serious harm, both physically and economically, should a major eruption occur," said Dr. Paul Young, Keck Chair of Seismology and Rock Mechanics as well as U of T's Vice-President, Research.
Being able to simulate the pressure conditions and events in volcanoes will greatly assist geophysicists in exploring the scientific basis for volcanic unrest.
"We cannot predict eruptions with total accuracy, but understanding these pre-eruption events better will help cities and towns near volcanoes know better whether they need to take the precaution of having people evacuate the area or not," said Dr. Young.
Dr. Young noted that the information gathered through this investigation should also prove useful to other industries including mining and construction as well as to scientists studying other earth sciences phenomena.