Monitoring Volcanoes

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Science  16 Mar 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6074, pp. 1310-1311
DOI: 10.1126/science.1219485

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The ascent of magma in volcanoes is typically accompanied by numerous small earthquakes, the release of magmatic gases, and surface deformation (1). Systematic volcano monitoring to detect these phenomena began in 1845 with the completion of the Osservatorio Vesuviano. Other volcano observatories soon followed, such as the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. Today, the World Organization of Volcano Observatories has 80 members. The range and sophistication of the detection systems has increased dramatically, and advanced models of volcanic processes are helping to interpret monitoring data. Yet, key problems remain both with distinguishing volcanoes that will erupt from those that will not and with global data coverage.