Can seismology help to predict volcanic eruptions... before they occur?

Currently, there is no fail-proof way to forecast a volcanic eruption—but that does not mean that scientists are not trying. One method that geologists use to deduce whether or not a volcano will erupt is to monitor magma and gas movements, which involves fracturing rock, beneath the volcano. The assumption is that the more magma movement there is, the more likely it is that the volcano may erupt, and when magma moves beneath a volcano it changes the stresses on the underground rock formations, causing an increased rate of seismicity. In this activity students work in small groups to evaluate the merit of a predictive hypothesis for volcanoes by analyzing and comparing earthquake event data for the world, region during a time of no earthquake swarms and during an earthquake swarm.

The development of this resources was funded by the National Science Foundation via Award # 0942518


Students will be able to…

  • Analyze the relationship between earthquake magnitude and frequency of occurrence
  • Make and analyze graphs of earthquake magnitude versus number of earthquakes at that magnitude
  • Describe the relationship between volcanoes and earthquakes in a written essay
  • Summarize the relationship between frequency and magnitude for earthquakes globally

Level: Intermediate


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