This project, funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, and in close collaboration with Alaska Volcano Observatory, will establish open-data, real-time, multi-sensor community experiments on two active volcanoes in the Aleutians, Cleveland and Okmok. A key component of the project is the development of high-bandwidth satellite telemetry that will provide real-time capabilities even in the most remote locations. Open, continuous data-streams in place before volcanic eruptions promise to revolutionize the field of volcanology by first increasing scientific understanding of eruptions and then driving the development of forecasts that are timely within the hours to months of “run-up” to eruptions, and improving forecasts as real-time data streams in.

View of the north face of Cleveland volcano, with the persistent gas plume visible.

Fundamental volcano-science questions center around the different roles of magma vs. gas flux in fueling and triggering eruptions. It is currently impossible to answer these questions without contemporary pre-eruption time-series from seismometers sensitive to magma movement, gas instruments that measure the degassing process as magma evolves toward eruption, and geodetic measurements of the rate of volume change in the magma reservoir. Such data have individually shown precursory signals prior to recent eruptions, but are rarely collected in concert and used in real-time to build forecasts.

N515-PA coming in to land on the RV Steadfast, with Cleveland in the background, September 2022.

The targets for AVERT are two neighboring volcanoes, Okmok and Cleveland in Alaska, which both erupt frequently and explosively and are currently displaying different signs of unrest. Okmok is a “closed” volcano; the ground surface has been uplifting for years, a signal that has been hindcast to reveal stress-driven triggering weeks prior to the 2008 eruption. We will augment the existing Okmok network to a total of 8 continuous GPS instruments to inform real-time forecast models. Cleveland is an “open” volcano, currently extruding a lava dome and commonly emitting a gas plume, and yet these gases are not measured in real-time. AVERT will bring both new GPS and gas data streams to Cleveland, and create a robust seismic array to augment the single existing instrument. The multi-sensor arrays on Okmok and Cleveland will serve as testbeds for the developing capabilities of satellite telemetry. As an open, community experiment, we invite participation of partners. This project serves as the first community experiment focused on anticipating eruptions, with open invitations to partners providing support of instrumentation, expertise or analysis.

View of Ahmanilix, the newest cone within Okmok's caldera, in September 2022. Formed in the 2008 VEI 4 eruption, the cone has been etched and incised by weathering processes ever since, which has given rise to its unique and fascinating appearance.