Michigan Tech Scientists Investigate Mini-Quakes

August 2, 2011

Researchers in Michigan’s far north are working in South America to investigate the links between small earthquakes and volcanic eruptions that can disrupt global air travel.

Michigan Technological University geologist Greg Waite is focusing on “mini-earthquakes” within or beneath the Villarrica volcano in Chile. It’s troublesome itself and is near to the Puyehue-Cordon Caulle volcano, whose eruptions disrupted airplane schedules.

The assistant professor says the volcano he and his students from the Houghton campus are investigating offers a window on volcanic behavior because it’s possible to view its bubbling lava from relative safety.

Waite says graduate student Josh Richardson was able to record about 19,000 mini-quakes in about a week during a recent field trip.

A $415,000 National Science Foundation grant funds the research.

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