Seismologists record unexpected volcanic eruption on Pacific isle

Photo by Patrick ShoreAnatahan eruption yields spectacular images, seismic data trove.Washington University geophysicists were fortunate to observe the May 10 eruption of a long dormant volcano on the uninhabited island Anatahan, part of the U.S.-administered Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas in the western Pacific. A seismograph they deployed there only a few days before the unexpected eruption has captured a trove of important seismic data — a detailed chronology of pre- and post-eruption rumblings. While the team’s primary focus is exploring the tectonic forces in the region, the chance capture of detailed volcanic eruption data may offer new avenues of research, perhaps providing tools to help access volcanic and seismic hazards to the people of the Marianas.