Wikipedia names thermal monitoring as one of the methods for predicting volcanic eruptions. I was able to find some papers (First, Second) on such thermometry and while they are challenging (I retired from physics years ago), I will consult them for the methods.

What I completely fail to find information on, is how current thermal behavior is supposed to be linked to future eruptions (other than: "it’s getting hotter, that could be magma rising upwards"). I realize we don’t have complete theories, but I hope you can tell me what kinds of ansatzes there are.

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    $\begingroup$ The Earth Science might be of more help. $\endgroup$
    – Jon Custer
    Jul 11, 2018 at 15:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JonCuster didn’t know that existed! Should I join and repost? I think there is a move feature. $\endgroup$
    – Ludi
    Jul 11, 2018 at 15:38
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    $\begingroup$ As far as I know, once a melt makes its way into a magma chamber, volatile content is the dominant eruptive trigger. Volatiles generally trigger eruptions in one of two ways. As a magma ascends, the decrease in pressure lowers the solubility of dissolved volatiles in the melt which creates bubbles. Alternatively there can be so-called "phreatomagmatic eruptions" which occur when ascending magma reacts with groundwater. At first glance, this makes me think that thermal monitoring may not be the best method for predicting eruptions. It's an interesting question - I'll ask around and report back $\endgroup$
    – g.z.
    Jul 14, 2018 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


I have not heard of complete theories connecting volcano temperatures to eruption possibilities either. If you mean subsurface magma temperatures, it is uncommon for there to be direct observations / readings for a particular volcano. Fumarolic temperatures, on the other hand, are directly indicative of current volcanic activity and are much more easily measured (example). In addition, geochemical analysis of fumarolic gases can be related to eruption probability (example, example).

Even in models of magma ascent, temperature differences are not the main focus, but rather pressure differences are (example). This is directly related to g.z.'s comment that volatile content certainly can be a dominant eruptive trigger.

  • $\begingroup$ I am a complete layman. What are fumarolic temperatures? $\endgroup$
    – Ludi
    Jul 14, 2018 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @Ludi Fumaroles are holes that spew out volcanic gases (sulfur is a common one). $\endgroup$
    – g.z.
    Jul 16, 2018 at 2:17

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