• Question: Do you ever go abroad and visit volcanoes?

    Asked by adelexox to James V on 22 Jun 2012.
    • Photo: James Verdon

      James Verdon answered on 22 Jun 2012:

      Hi Adelexox,
      Yes, I do. It’s one of the best parts of my job. The last one I went to was Nisyros, which is on a Greek island. That was a couple of years ago. I’m going to Iceland in a few weeks, where I’ll see some volcanoes, but that’s actually a holiday, not for work. My next science trip will hopefully be to the Alutu volcano in Ethiopia, probably sometime next year.

      We do things like installing seismometers, which record whether any earthquakes are happening below the volcano, which could be an indication that an eruption is imminent. We also install GPS checkpoints, which record if the volcano is moving up or down. As magma fills the chambers below the volcano, the whole thing can actually expand by many centimeters. So by measuring the expansion with GPS, we can track how quickly magma is rising, and so whether an eruption is likely.