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Volcano seismology

Volcanoes are composed of highly heterogeneous, scattering material which implies that information on the source of seismic waves – e.g. due to migration of magma – is considerable masked by the structure. In addition, volcanoes by their nature are mountains with steep and complex topography. Yet, seismology plays a fundamental role in monitoring active volcanoes. Therefore, a key objective of the coming years will be to adapt 3D wave propagation tools to volcanology.

From a more technical point of view it is necessary to define optimal ways to model the very complex free surface not only as a scattering surface for incoming waves but also as the location of surface sources. The reason is that one source of seismic energy is the downhill transport of mass along as domes collaps and/or pyroclastic flows run down the flanks. Few algorithms are available now to model strong topography. However, it is not clear which approach is best suited for surface sources. The objectives for volcano seismology are to accurately model the static effects such as topography and internal structure in order to focus on the relevant temporal changes of the internal magmatic system.

It can be expected that the monitoring and hazard evaluation of volcano activity can be considerably improved with better understanding of the large spectrum of seismic signals that are observed on volcanoes before, during and after eruptions.