Volcano

Jeffrey Johnson

He’s studied volcanoes in Chile and Guatemala. Now this Boise State University volcanologist is studying a lava lake in central Africa, hoping it can help scientists better understand when volcanoes are going to erupt.

Jeffrey Johnson

There’s a volcano in Guatemala that erupts on a regular basis, so regular that some scientists call it the “Old Faithful” of volcanoes. That makes it very popular with people who study volcanoes, like Boise State Professor Jeffrey Johnson.

Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, Johnson recently led 60 researchers from Mexico, France, Italy and the United Kingdom to conduct different studies on the volcano. He returned last month and says the work being done in Guatemala could someday help scientists better predict how other volcanoes will behave.

Jeffrey Johnson / Boise State University

Jeffrey Johnson got quite a wakeup call this week. The assistant professor of geosciences at Boise State University is working in Pucon, Chile on a Fulbright grant to study volcanoes. He was just ten miles away when the Villarrica volcano had a large eruption Tuesday morning.

Johnson's work includes listening to low frequency sounds that volcanoes make. Here’s the low-frequency sound his sensors recorded during this week's eruption; the sound is normally too low for us to hear, so it's been sped up:

Scientists monitoring Mount St. Helens confirmed Wednesday that magma is on the rise and "re-pressurizing" the volcano in southwest Washington.

Yellowstone, Mammoth, hot springs
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

A new study shows the chamber of hot molten rock below Yellowstone National Park is more than 2 and a-half times larger than previously estimated.

Lead author Jamie Farrell of the University of Utah said Monday the magma chamber is about 55 miles long, 18 miles wide and runs at depths from 3 to 9 miles below the earth.

That means the supervolcano below Yellowstone has the potential to erupt with the force of its largest-ever eruption 2.1 million years ago.