PORTLAND,Ore. -- Local scientists are hoping technology used on Mount St. Helens will help Chile avoid another disaster.

When Mount St. Helens roared back to life in 2004 scientists in Vancouver came up with a way to monitor it without risking lives. They built devices they called spiders.

The spiders are dropped by helicopter onto the lava dome to monitor seismic activity and growth.

Two of the devices will soon be dropped inside the Chaiten Volcano in Chile.

This trip will be the first time they'll be used internationally, said USGS Hydrologist Rick LaHusen.

The Chaiten Volcano erupted in May of 2008 destroying the nearby town. It remained active until just a few months ago.

This eruption caught the Chilean geological survey off guard. It caught everyone off guard because they didn't have instruments in place, explained Tom Pierson.

Pierson is also a research hydrologist at USGS in Vancouver. He says the spiders will help Chile determine if the volcano is dormant or if it's still active.

It may be possible that an earthquake like the big one that just happened might be strong enough to actually cause some pressurization and deformation of the rock right around the volcano that might trigger an eruption, said Pierson.

The spiders were scheduled to go to Chile in mid March. But the earthquake has temporarily delayed the mission.

Read or Share this story: