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Mt. St. Helens EruptionVolcanoes are windows into the interior of the Earth. Through subtle changes and dramatic explosions, they intrigue scientists and often strike fear into societies. Lava flows, pyroclastic flows, and lahars pose great risk to those living in the proximity of a volcano, while large explosive eruptions can affect the entire planet by filling the atmosphere with ash and sulfate particles thereby modify the global climate. We are entering a period of rapid growth in our understanding of volcanoes as we integrate a broader variety of measurements of volcanic behavior and develop new observational tools.

ESE investigators have pioneered, advanced, and refined techniques for measuring volcanogenic ground deformation, temperature anomalies, gas emissions, and aerosol clouds from space. Working with colleagues in the USGS, NWS, and FAA, as well as international partners, NASA plans to accomplish such milestones as a dynamic global inventory of volcanic activity and an improved volcanic activity warning system.

The benefits for the nation are myriad. Some examples are hazard mitigation due to improved volcanic activity warnings, advanced planning for effects on populations near volcanically active regions, and detection of ash and plume products to provide warnings for airlines.

Scientific challenges   Updates on active volcanoes
Effect on society   Global map of volcanoes
NASA's applications   Integrated Solid Earth Science Program
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