Sound recording equipment is getting better all the time. Researchers from Boise State University, Stanford University, and Chile’s University of Concepcion have just found a new, very specific application for low-frequency microphones, however, potentially helping to predict the eruption of certain volcanoes around the world. Their technology involves monitoring inaudible low frequencies, called infrasound, which are produced by a type of active volcano such as the Villarrica volcano in southern Chile. “Many volcanoes produce energetic infrasound — not ultrasound — which is low-frequency sound that travels long distances through the atmosphere and can be recorded with specialized microphophones,” Jeffrey Johnson, an associate professor of geophysics at Boise State, told Digital Trends. “Although humans can’t perceive infrasound, it can be incredibly energetic.” In the leadup to Villarrica’s March 3, 2015 eruption, which caused the evacuation of around 4,000 people from their homes, Johnson notes that the volcano was kicking out as much as 100,000 watts of acoustic power 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This infrasound was produced by the lava lake at the bottom of the crater, but its sound tone and quality were influenced by the shape of the crater, which acted like a giant musical horn…. Read full this story
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