To study active volcanism, the U.S. Geological Survey’s Volcano Hazards Program depends principally on the research and monitoring. Volcano observatories provide continuous and periodic monitoring of the seismicity, other geophysical changes, ground movements, gas chemistry, and hydrologic conditions and activity between and during eruptions. They also provide a detailed record of eruptions in progress. These observations serve to characterize eruptive behavior, identify the nature of precursory activity leading to eruption, define the processes by which different types of deposits are emplaced, and specify the hazards that could be unleashed by each kind of eruption. From direct observation of precursory signs, it is possible to anticipate eruptions. Underlying all observatory operations is an ongoing program of fundamental research in volcanic processes, supplemented by collaborative studies conducted at other USGS centers. Such research typically includes direct interpretation of the monitoring and eruption data, and it leads to formulation of conceptual models that can be tested by theoretical or laboratory simulations of volcanic systems.
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