Infrasound may be used to detect the approach of hazardous volcanic mudflows, known as lahars, tens of minutes before their flow fronts arrive. We have analyzed signals from more than 20 secondary lahars caused by precipitation events at Fuego Volcano during Guatemala’s rainy season in May through October of 2022. We are able to quantify the capabilities of infrasound monitoring through comparison with seismic data, time lapse camera imagery, and high-resolution video of a well-recorded event on August 17. We determine that infrasound sensors, deployed adjacent to the lahar path and in small-aperture (10 s of meters) arrays, are particularly sensitive to remote detection of lahars, including small-sized events, at distances of at least 5 km. At Fuego Volcano these detections could be used to provide timely alerts of up to 30 min before lahars arrive at a downstream monitoring site, such as in the frequently impacted Ceniza drainage. We propose that continuous infrasound monitoring, from locations adjacent to a drainage, may complement seismic monitoring and serve as a valuable tool to help identify approaching hazards. On the other hand, infrasound arrays located a kilometer or more from the lahar path can be effectively used to track a lahar’s progression.
The version of record of this article, first published in Scientific Reports, is available online at Springer's website: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-32109-2
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Johnson, J.B.; Roca, A.; Pineda, A.; Mérida, R.; Escobar-Wolf, R.; Anderson, J.F.; . . . and Waite, G.P. (2023). "Infrasound Detection of Approaching Lahars". Scientific Reports, 13, 6476. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-32109-2