Study of Geophysics in the sights of scientists around the world

The Sierra Negra volcano is located on Isabela Island, in the Galapagos archipelago. Photo: Courtesy Mario Ruiz

Study of Geophysics in the sights of scientists around the world

Andrea Rodríguez, Editor (I)
January 3, 2021 00:00

After a two-year follow-up, the journal Nature will publish an article prepared by researchers from the Geophysical Institute in Ecuador. The team is led by seismologist Mario Ruiz and includes scientists from Scotland, Ireland and the United States. The publication is based on the monitoring of the eruptive process of the Sierra Negra volcano, on Isabela Island, Galapagos.

All development prior to the eruption was recorded. The analyzed data has received the attention of scholars from all over the planet. Ruiz remembers that he was born in Cotacachi – amid volcanoes, he says. He is a professor and researcher at the Geophysical Institute of the National Polytechnic School (EPN). Ruiz holds the Presidency of the Latin American and Caribbean Commission for Seismology.

He points out that several techniques are used to monitor a volcano: analysis of seismic events, deformation of the walls, geochemistry of the gases released, among others. Several specialties come together to combine observations in different fields, in order to evaluate anomalies to try to determine a possible rise of magma. In 2013 he began monitoring the Galapagos volcanoes. On Isabela Island the following are under study: Wolf, Darwin, Alcedo, Cerro Azul and Sierra Negra. Also the Fernandina volcano on the island of the same name.

The expert affirms that Galapagos became a world laboratory. What makes the archipelago so special is that eruptions are very frequent: the islands’ volcanoes are activated every 10, 15 and 20 years. This is in contrast to the majority of craters in the world that tend to awaken every hundreds or thousands of years. Frequent eruptions allow you to test monitoring techniques, determine what is happening before they do, establish patterns, and build models. Starting in 2017, seismic activity began to increase at the Sierra Negra volcano.

In 2018, scientists from other parts of the world were invited to study the phenomenon in the country. They came with instruments and financing. Those most interested were researchers from the University of Edinburgh, also from the Dublin Institute for Advanced Study, and from Pennsylvania State University. The equipment was placed on the Sierra Negra volcano three months before it erupted. It was one of the best-monitored volcanic events on the planet.

This allowed scientists to obtain a large amount of data to process and present new models to predict eruptions. For example, it was found that the floor of the volcano’s caldera rose six meters before the eruptive event.

These predictive models opened the doors of scientific dissemination media, such as the journal Nature, to research carried out in Galapagos. The publication is scheduled for the next few weeks – it has already passed the peer review and has been recommended. Another article on the matter is also on the way, preparing for publication in the journal Science in the coming months.

The universities of Edinburgh and Pennsylvania, which participated in the investigation, came forward to announce it in a statement. Ruiz points out that scientific journals of this level exhaustively verify that the research to be published is novel and has a high impact on the academic world. The articles will be taken into account for the follow-up of eruptions in other parts of the world. For example, in the United States there is great interest in the work carried out in Galapagos.

This, because by knowing how the volcanoes of our archipelago work, they can apply the predictive model developed to the volcanoes of Hawaii. Ruiz explains that there the eruptions are much less frequent, therefore, difficult to study to try to establish models and patterns. Something similar to what happens in Iceland and the Canary Islands.

Read the full coverage at : This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address:

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