Tornillo earthquakes makes volcanoes sexy – at least for volcanologists.
The destruction and the potential impact on nearby cities make volcanoes exciting and certainly newsworthy. Ash clouds and their effect on global transport and agriculture puts volcanoes on the political agenda. Powerful pictures, stunning videos and the stories of the people involved make volcanoes interesting for everyone.
However, as amazing as volcanoes are, they are a tricky topic to communicate. It is not all about the science when one discusses a topic that also brings great destruction – there are emotions to take in to consideration. There are many aspects to communicating volcanoes – the scientific findings, the social impact, the political agenda, or even about the breathtaking sights and sounds.
However, like every other scientific topic, it is important to be confident and enthusiastic when presenting it to the public.
Take tornillo activity as an example. Tornillos are seismic signals from the heart of the volcano and originate from processes similar to the ones producing harmonic tones in a flute. The movement of lava within the tube-system of the volcano is related to “sound waves” travelling in the rock itself. The Tornilllo is linked to volcanic forecasts and early warning systems and by explaining complex seismic signals by the means of everyday objects, it is easier to reach out to the public in a more effective way.
To quote Anatole France, a French poet, journalist, and novelist who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921:
“Do not try to satisfy your vanity by teaching a great many things. Awaken people’s curiosity! It is enough to open minds, do not overload them. Put there just a spark”
Featured image credit: Rainer Albiez via Shutterstock
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