Drones and sensors could help us escape volcanoes' destructive power
3:23

Drones and sensors could help us escape volcanoes' destructive power

Science
More than a half a billion people in the world live in a shadow of an active volcano, like Hawaii's Kilauea. In May it began oozing rivers of lava, a slow motion disaster compared to the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State in 1980. It blew debris and ash 15 miles high Darken skies were hundred of miles in set up avalanches and mud flows that killed 57 people. Well, eruptions can't be stopped, they can be predicted and with the use of tech, scientists are getting a lot better at it. [MUSIC] Mount Rainier is just 50 miles away from Mount St. Helen's. It's even closer to my hometown of Tacoma and it's capable of a cataclysmic event. That's why I went to see the tech that can detect signs of an imminent volcanic eruption. And that's the route we take. We just follow that ridgeline up all the way. I did a seven mile hike with a team from the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. To look at a seismology station at Mt. Ranier. It's due for a big tech upgrade. To get to the station, we had to walk down a steep Alpine meadow and deal with three kinds of biting insects. I'm at the seismology station. I am being eaten alive by bugs, it is beautiful though. Everything here is analog right now. A seismometer sends data about ground movement as an electrical current. That's picked up and transmitted by an old school FM radio. This month, the team will hike back out here and install a new seismometer. 14 solar panels and digital equipment that will set higher quality data back to the lab in Seattle. The objective is to make the analog signal digital as early as possible, so in this case, what we're doing is taking the analog Analog signal that comes out of the seismometer and digitizing it immediately at the sight. From that point on no noise is introduced. The data can tell scientists when small cluster quakes happen on the mountain. Those can be a sign of imminent eruption. Seismologist want to put the same kind of equipment at Glacier Peak. A volcano 90 miles to the north. To find the best places to put seismology stations, scientists relied on lidar images that strip away ground cover from the mountain and reveal the topography underneath. If Mount Rainier erupted, the worst danger to the millions of people who live nearby are lahars. So what is a lahar? It's essentially a landslide, slurry mix that travels down river paths. They can be hot. They're fast, and they're thick and goopy and wreak havoc on any structures [NOISE] An eruption could also shoot volcanic ash, rock, and lava into the sky. And blow off the face of Mount Ranier. That's what happened at Mount Saint Helens. [UNKNOWN] monitors measure ground movement. Mass spectrometers can measure what kinds of gas are coming out of a volcano. If there's a high level of sulphur dioxide, eruption is imminent. [MUSIC] Scientists at NASA's jet propulsion lab are building small mass spectrometers to mount on drones that look like these. Those drones will protect the lives of scientists working near active volcanoes and keeping them safe will help keep everyone else living near an active volcano a little safer too. [BLANK_AUDIO]

Up Next

Tracking the hidden lives of Denali's wolves
road-trip-wolves-20

Up Next

Tracking the hidden lives of Denali's wolves

On the ground and in the cloud, the fight to save the Amazon
rt-brazil-image

On the ground and in the cloud, the fight to save the Amazon

A bomb shelter for every home?
bomb-image

A bomb shelter for every home?

Kelly Slater creates the perfect wave in the middle of nowhere
rt-kelly

Kelly Slater creates the perfect wave in the middle of nowhere

On Mount Washington, weather watching is risky business
ww-still-final

On Mount Washington, weather watching is risky business

Here's how National Parks are trying to preserve themselves
nps-thumb

Here's how National Parks are trying to preserve themselves

How drones are helping fight California's wildfires
fire-drones-seq-00-11-15-17-still001

How drones are helping fight California's wildfires

How huge lasers could zap a probe far beyond our solar system
screen-shot-2018-08-21-at-3-22-39-pm

How huge lasers could zap a probe far beyond our solar system

How tech is keeping one critically endangered desert fish alive
devils-hole-10

How tech is keeping one critically endangered desert fish alive

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core-w

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city-w

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
cnet-top-5-w

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
dc-site-1color-logo.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future-w

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today-w

Tech Today

Latest News All latest news

What It's Like Playing VR Football: NFL Pro Era Hands-On
nfl-cut-5-with-vo-00-00-34-02-still009

What It's Like Playing VR Football: NFL Pro Era Hands-On

Where and When You Should Charge Your Electric Car
title-00-00-06-19-still001

Where and When You Should Charge Your Electric Car

iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed
thumb2

iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed

AirPods Pro 2 Review: Hard to Beat for Apple Users
airpodspro2-00-00-16-15-still010

AirPods Pro 2 Review: Hard to Beat for Apple Users

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home
ultracnet

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home

Why Apple Uses eSIMs on the iPhone 14
yt-e-sim-explainer-v2

Why Apple Uses eSIMs on the iPhone 14

Most Popular All most popular

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home
ultracnet

Apple Watch Ultra: Go Big, or Go Home

iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed
thumb2

iOS 16: Powerful Features You May Have Missed

Why Apple Uses eSIMs on the iPhone 14
yt-e-sim-explainer-v2

Why Apple Uses eSIMs on the iPhone 14

The US Is About to Exit a Long Dark Age of Lousy Headlights
mazda-i-activsense-adaptive-led-headlamps-alh-mp4-00-01-04-10-still001

The US Is About to Exit a Long Dark Age of Lousy Headlights

iPhone 14 is Missing These 5 Features
top5iphone14missing-00-00-00-00-still001

iPhone 14 is Missing These 5 Features

Where and When You Should Charge Your Electric Car
title-00-00-06-19-still001

Where and When You Should Charge Your Electric Car

Latest Products All latest products

GoPro Hero 11 Black Hands-on: Super-sized Sensor for All Your Socials
gopro1

GoPro Hero 11 Black Hands-on: Super-sized Sensor for All Your Socials

I Tried Out Sony's Upcoming VR Headset on the PlayStation 5
psvr2

I Tried Out Sony's Upcoming VR Headset on the PlayStation 5

Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE: First Look
watch8-sepic

Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch SE: First Look

Bose QuietComfort EarBuds 2: Better design, better performance
bose-quietcomforst-ii

Bose QuietComfort EarBuds 2: Better design, better performance

Galaxy Z Flip 4 Review: A Diminutive but Fun Upgrade
flip4

Galaxy Z Flip 4 Review: A Diminutive but Fun Upgrade

Hands-On With This Massive 17-Inch Folding OLED Screen PC From Asus
yt-asus-foldable-nda-v5

Hands-On With This Massive 17-Inch Folding OLED Screen PC From Asus

Latest How To All how to videos

How to Clean Your Keyboard's Sticky Keys
3keyboards

How to Clean Your Keyboard's Sticky Keys

How to Play Games from PlayStation Plus on PC
psstill

How to Play Games from PlayStation Plus on PC

How to Delete or Disable Your Instagram Account
phoneonorange

How to Delete or Disable Your Instagram Account

Fix Your iPhone Screen With Apple's Self-Service Repair Kit
dsc00641

Fix Your iPhone Screen With Apple's Self-Service Repair Kit

How to Buy a Budget Laptop in 2022
budgetlaptops-00-08-35-15-still001

How to Buy a Budget Laptop in 2022

Google Pay: How to Set Up and Use
googlepay-inhand

Google Pay: How to Set Up and Use