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Friday, October 29, 1999 Published at 00:17 GMT 01:17 UK


Scientists improve volcano prediction

Tourists on Izu beach need accurate volcano predictions

By BBC science reporter Corinne Podger

Scientists in Japan and the United States say they have found a way of forecasting volcanic eruptions that is more accurate than existing methods.

The researchers studied volcanic activity that took place on Japan's Izu Peninsula in 1997.

In research published in the magazine Science, they say by measuring changes in the landscape prior to an eruption, they can obtain a strong indication of when the volcano will actually explode.

Researchers from the University of Tokyo and Stanford University in the United States measured the series of earthquakes which took place in rapid succession using data collected by satellites.

[ image: Earthquakes push up lava which can then erupt]
Earthquakes push up lava which can then erupt
They also monitored changes in the shape of the ground nearby.

Their calculations showed that the earthquakes led to a "push" of molten lava towards ground level.

And while the earthquakes subsided after two days, the magma continued to deform the shape of the ground for more than a week afterwards.

The researchers say these changes can provide vital information in predicting if and when an eruption will take place after an earthquake.

And they conclude that ground deformities should be carefully monitored in volcanic regions after any earthquake activity.

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