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September 28, 2015

Fuego, an open-vent volcano located 20 miles west of Guatemala City, erupts in a small explosion.

A small explosion from Fuego, an open-vent volcano located 20 miles west of Guatemala City. Open-vent volcanoes constantly pop with small eruptions, causing low-level, low-frequency earthquakes but usually posing little risk. Scientists study these earthquakes to learn more about volcanic behavior and, ultimately, better ways to predict when a major eruption might occur. Greg Waite, an assistant professor of geological and mining engineering and sciences at Michigan Technological University, is conducting his research on Fuego and Pacaya, another open-vent volcano just south of Guatemala City, under an NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) award. "We can apply what we learn about these small, repetitive events to other active volcanoes that are capable of large, damaging eruptions," Waite says. "We are trying to get a better handle on what these little earthquakes mean, so we can better forecast major eruptions."

Credit: NSF

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