New seismic stations at Glacier Peak: Research in wilderness brings controversy : Short Wave Volcanoes are "talking" to us all the time. Scientists say the sooner we learn to interpret their normal chatter, the quicker we'll know when something unusual — and potentially dangerous — is happening. But volcanoes often sit on protected land, so that detection work sometimes brings scientists into conflict with conservationists. Today, the tug-of-war over a sleeping giant in the Pacific Northwest.

This episode is part of our series about the science happening on public lands, dropping every Friday the rest of the summer.

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As we continue our road trip, we also want to hear where in the world you are — especially if you're at a national park! To be featured in an episode, send us a recording saying your name, location and "You're listening to Short Wave — from NPR." Our email is shortwave@npr.org. We'd love to hear from you!

Eavesdropping On A Volcano

Eavesdropping On A Volcano

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Glacier Peak is a 3214-meter (10,544-foot) volcano in the northern Cascade Mountains in Washington State. This summer the United States Forest Service (USFS) approved an application by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to add four more seismometers to Glacier Peak. Scientists currently monitor volcanic activity with one seismometer. U.S. Geological Survey hide caption

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U.S. Geological Survey

Glacier Peak is a 3214-meter (10,544-foot) volcano in the northern Cascade Mountains in Washington State. This summer the United States Forest Service (USFS) approved an application by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to add four more seismometers to Glacier Peak. Scientists currently monitor volcanic activity with one seismometer.

U.S. Geological Survey

There are 161 potentially active volcanoes in the United States, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Most of the time they seem silent – punctuated by a few very noisy eruptions. But those volcanoes are "talking" to us all the time. Scientists say the sooner we learn to interpret their normal chatter, the quicker we'll know when they're telling us something unusual and potentially dangerous.

One way to "listen" to this volcano is through seismic monitors, which measure the dynamic shuddering of the Earth under and around volcanoes. That usually requires installing seismic stations in remote locations — in the United States, often on protected land. That can occasionally bring researchers into conflict with some conservationists.

Every Friday this summer Short Wave is publishing a series of stories on science in public lands. Today's episode is the tug-of-war over a particular sleeping giant in the Pacific Northwest: Glacier Peak.

There are five active volcanoes in Washington State. Of the five, Glacier Peak is the most remote. U.S. Geological Survey hide caption

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U.S. Geological Survey

There are five active volcanoes in Washington State. Of the five, Glacier Peak is the most remote.

U.S. Geological Survey

As we continue our road trip touring the science happing on public lands, we want to hear where in the world you are too — especially if you're at a national park! To be featured in an episode, send us a recording saying your name, location and "You're listening to Short Wave — from NPR." Our email is shortwave@npr.org. We'd love to hear from you!

This episode was produced by Berly McCoy and edited by Rebecca Ramirez. Rachel Carlson checked the facts. Natasha Branch was the audio engineer.