With an upgraded supercomputer and strategic modeling program, a team of geologists successfully predicted a volcanic eruption at the Sierra Negra volcano five months before it took place. The Volcano Prediction Modeling Program was established in 2017 by geology professor Patricia Gregg and her team. They installed the program on the Blue Water and iForge supercomputers. Meanwhile, another group is monitoring the Sierra Negra volcano located in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador. The forecasting model was originally developed on the iMac and previously successfully reproduced the 2008 eruption of the Okmok volcano in Alaska. Gregg’s team continued to test the model’s high-performance computing upgrade. And, they found that Sierra Negra volcano data suggests an imminent eruption.
Explaining the nature of the Sierra Negra volcano, Gregg speak it “is a well-active volcano”. He shared that in the past, the volcano foretold every sign before erupting. These include gas release, increased seismic activity, and well drilling. Therefore, the volcano was selected to test the upgraded model.
Forecasting eruptions is considered an extremely important task in geology because most volcanoes do not follow a pattern, making it difficult to predict their future activity. However, developing quantitative models is said to be effective in doing the hard work.
After receiving data from the Sierra Negra volcano, Gregg and her team ran it through a supercomputer-assisted model and finished the run in 2018. It was amazing, even if the run was a single one. examined, it provided a framework that shed light on the eruption cycles of Sierra Negra and helped to assess the timing of its future eruptions.
Gregg notes: “Our model predicts that the strength of the Sierra Negra’s magma chamber rocks will become very unstable between June 25 and July 5, and possibly resulting in mechanical failure and subsequent eruption.
Gregg shared that they presented the findings at a scientific conference in March 2018 and did not look back at the models. However, on June 26 of that year, one of the Ecuadorian project scientists, Dennis Geist, texted Gregg asking her about the forecast date for the eruption. “Sierra Negra erupted one day after our earliest predicted mechanical failure date. Gregg said.
According to the researchers, researchpublished in the magazine Scientific advancealso demonstrated how to combine high performance Super computer into real research can lead to such groundbreaking results.