The Predicted Volcanic Eruption

Members of the Volcanic Risks Solutions team at Massey University in New Zealand have successfully predicted a volcanic eruption.  

A volcanic eruption of their creation, that is...!

Picture: The Volcanic Risks Solutions team; Shane Cronin,
Eric Breard (top), Dr Gert Lube and Professor Jim Jones with the Tower of Doom.

This team, led by Professor Shane Cronin and Dr Gert Lube, has created the world's first research project to investigate pyroclastic flows.

Pyroclastic flows are flows of a mixture of hot gas and particles that are emitted during a volcanic eruption, particularly like the eruptions found in New Zealand. 

Understanding the physical properties of pyroclastic flows, the velocities and temperatures involved is the first step in understanding this devastating natural hazard that has cost many lives in eruptions around the world, such as at Mt St Helens, USA, Mt Unzen in Japan and at Merapi, Indonesia's most active volcano.

Flow image courtesy of Geology.com

Picture: Mt St Helens pyroclastic flow on August 7, 1980


On the 12th of March, the Volcanic Risks Solutions team set off an eruption on their 15m tall machine in an old boiler room, aptly named the Tower of Doom. 
Using high-speed cameras, they were able to capture the journey of individual particles in the resulting pyroclastic flows. Expecting velocities of 9 m/s, their simulated eruption produced flows of 25 m/s, which can be substantial when understanding these flows. 

Check out the video of the construction of the Tower of Doom at this link

Check out the video of the predicted volcanic eruption at this link