Images: Rambling Atop an Active Volcano to Detect Telltale Rumbling Within It
ON TOP OF MOUNT LATARising 1,000 meters (3,000 feet) above the Samoan island of Ta'u, Mount Lata is an active volcano. It was formerly dome-shaped, but one of its sides collapsed in landslides that cast debris all the way onto the seafloor. The landslides left a steep escarpment, which is primed for further catastrophic landslidesand possibly tsunamisespecially if it is disturbed by movements within the volcano. (Photo by Jeff Standish, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution)
STUDENT EXPEDITION LEADERRhea Workman, a MIT/WHOI Joint Program graduate student, organized expeditions in 2002 and 2004 to assess the volcano and landslide hazard potential on the Samoan island of Ta'u. Here she stands near a lava dike formation on the island.
A GPS NETWORKWorkman enlisted fellow JP graduate students to install Global Positioning Satellite benchmarks throughout the volcanic island. The students measured subtle changes in the volcano's surface that can signal changes in the volcano?s underlying magma chamber. GPS receivers can measure ground-motion changes smaller than 1 centimeter. (Map by Rhea Workman/WHOI)
INTO THE UNTRAMMELED INTERIORWorkman and her student colleagues took GPS measurements in 2002 and 2004. They measured tiny deformations of the ground surface to evaluate what's going on inside the volcano and to predict whether it might erupt or cause landslides. (Photo by Jeff Standish, WHOI)
RESEARCH AND EDUCATIONWhile on Ta'u, Workman visited local schools to tell students about the underlying geology of their island and to explain the WHOI team's research. (Photo by Stan Hart, WHOI)