While volcanologists can see the dome of the Soufriere Hills Volcano on the island of Montserrat grow and collapse, it takes instrumentation to delve beneath the surface. Now, Penn State geologists, using tiltmeter measurements, have investigated a shallow area under the dome and what they found was not quite what they expected.
"The Soufriere Hills Volcano has been building a lava dome, collapsing and rebuilding a dome since 1995, when it first erupted," says Dr. Christina Widiwijayanti, postdoctoral researcher in geosciences, working with Dr. Barry Voight, professor of geosciences. "We are working with data collected from tiltmeters in 1997 to try to understand the volcanos behavior and what is happening inside."
Voight had placed several tiltmeters around the crater rim of the volcano in 1996-97, but no more than two were ever working at once and during the important June 25, 1997 dome collapse, only one was operational. However, from a record the previous month, two tiltmeters recorded the cycle of pressurization and depressurization that took place under the dome on a 3 to 30-hour cycle.
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