A Surprisingly Awesome Way Scientists Monitor Europe’s Most Active Volcano

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Researchers have lately begun utilizing fiber-optic connections to monitor Europe’s greatest volatile volcano. DAS (distributed acoustic sensing) is a new technique that can detect seismic waves that regular sensors overlook.

Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Mt. Etna is Europe’s tallest active volcano, with a height of around 10,900 ft (3,320 m). Mount Etna is among the most closely studied volcanoes on the planet because of its prominence in Europe.

Researchers, on the other hand, have lately started utilizing fiber-optic connections to spy on Mount Etna. Earthquake vibrations were detected by scientists using a technique described as dispersed acoustic sensing in a study reported in the journal Nature Communications. Inhabitants of Italy’s neighboring regions might benefit from an improved early warning system thanks to this equipment.

Fiber optics transmit messages in the shape of pulses of light. A little amount of energy is reflected directly to the origin if the connection fails during an earthquake. Researchers use an “interrogator,” which shoots a beam through the filaments and evaluates the data in order to quantify this. As scientists understand the speed of light, they are able to detect disruptions at different points along the wire.

The cable was also able to detect further volcanic eruptions. Conventional sensors had no idea they existed or could only distinguish a few of them. At certain times, the volcano’s gaseous plume is degassed, and these occurrences are captured on camera. The researchers think that the degassing events that create these pulses are triggered by the passage of gas or liquid deep inside the Earth’s crust. Maintaining a DAS is much simpler than maintaining an analog sensor.

Mount Etna is extensively watched because of the vast volume of individuals that live nearby, including over 200 observation stations. Human involvement is required, but the less duration people stay nearby a volcano, the safer.

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