General Electric Partners with Scientists to Set Up First Volcano With Wi-Fi

Just south of the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua stands Masaya Volcano. A 16th century Spaniard described the gaping hole and lava lake below “The Mouth of Hell.” With over a million people living within 15 miles of the volcano, there is always a very real worry over a massive eruption. But what if the citizens of Managua knew that an eruption was coming? How many lives can be saved if volcanoes are connected “the grid”? Masaya might not be the world’s biggest volcano, but it may soon become the world’s most technologically advanced. 

 A team led by explorer and filmmaker Sam Cossman is working to bring Masaya online by installing close to 100 Wi-Fi connected sensors around and inside of the crater itself.  These sensors would compile gravity, atmospheric, and gas measurements in order to develop a clearer picture of its hydrothermal system and maybe even predict when the next eruption could take place. These sensors will connect to an open-source network called Predix run by General Electric, allowing scientists and the public alike to peruse the data and use for their own research. 

Said resident volcanologist Dr. Guillermo Caravantes in a video posted on GE’s Facebook page, “Like doctors, we would be able to monitor the vital signs of the volcano in real time.”

Once all sensors are online, people around the world will have access to the data. This crowdsourcing of data may lead to new scientific conclusions and certainly recommendations to the Nicaraguan government on how to preserve Masaya while protecting its citizens from a sudden volcanic eruption.

More importantly, if this online detection system is proven to work in Nicaragua, the team’s long term goal would be to put more and more volcanoes online. In the future, it’s not inconceivable to believe that most of Earth’s major volcanoes would connected to such a network.