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Volcano's Deadly Warning

Program Overview


Scientists have long worked to find reliable prediction methods for volcanic eruptions. NOVA chronicles scientists' efforts in this area, focusing on one volcanologist's unique way of predicting eruptions.

The program:

  • recounts the 1985 eruption of the Nevado del Ruiz volcano in Colombia, Mexico, which killed 25,000 people.

  • explains different methods used to predict eruptions, such as looking at distinct seismic signals and surface gas monitoring.

  • introduces Dr. Bernard Chouet, who looks at a unique kind of seismic signal to predict eruptions, called a long-period event, that is characterized by a slow onset and gradual ending.

  • indicates how long-period events may signal pressure buildup created by magma and gas pushing into a volcano.

  • describes how researchers monitoring surface gas data concluded that Colombia's Galeras volcano was safe to visit; the volcano later erupted, killing nine people.

  • chronicles the successful evacuation, based on the use of Chouet's method, of villages near Mexico's Popocatépetl volcano before its December 2000 eruption.

Teacher's Guide
Volcano's Deadly Warning
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