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Continuous Gas Monitoring Tracks Volcanic Activity at Mount St. Helens

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Detailed Description

Volcano gas geochemistry has been around for a long time. Scientists can make gas measurements using very large, very expensive Correlation Spectrometers or collect samples in the field and bring them back for analysis in the lab. But it’s possible we’re missing out on a lot of information because our monitoring capabilities don’t include continuous observation.

To solve the problem, researchers at the USGS-Cascades Volcano Observatory developed a MultiGAS analyzer that was installed in the crater of Mount St. Helens. The “SNIF” site continuously monitors gas plumes at Mount St. Helens and sends data to USGS-CVO. This video shows the SNIF station and USGS Research Geologist Peter Kelly discusses how it works.

By continuously monitoring volcanic gases at Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes, scientists hope to pick up on the earliest signs of unrest. The data will be used in combination with other monitoring data such as seismicity and ground deformation to piece together a comprehensive model for what we think is going on at the volcano. The information will be used to issue warnings of impending eruptions and deliver eruption updates to local governments, public officials, the media and the public.




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