Drones Discover Hidden Weaknesses of Collapsing Volcanoes
When viscous lava erupts, lava domes can form at the top of many volcanoes. If these domes become unstable, their collapse can be extremely hazardous, as was seen when Mount St. Helens in Washington collapsed in 1980, leading to the largest landslide in recorded history. Although potentially catastrophic, the cause of these events has not been fully understood, in part because of the difficulty and danger of reaching summits by foot. But finding the cause can help experts better predict and prepare for volcano dome collapses, potentially saving many lives and infrastructure.
So how can scientists reach great and treacherous heights to study volcanoes’ lava domes and their destabilization? One answer: drones.
In a new study published in Scientific Reports, a team of international researchers set their sights on the summit dome atop…