THE 'materials science' method for eruption prediction1-3 arises from the application of a general law governing the failure of materials: ??-?? ??-A=0, where A and ?? are empirical constants, and ?? is an observable quantity such as ground deformation, seismicity or gas emission. This law leads to the idea of the 'inverse-rate' plot, in which the time of failure can be estimated by extrapolation of the curve of ??-1 versus time to a pre-deter-mined intercept. Here we suggest that this method can be combined with real-time seismic amplitude monitoring to provide a tool for near-real-time eruption prediction, and we demonstrate how it might have been used to predict two dome-growth episodes at Mount St Helens volcano in 1985 and 1986, and two explosive eruptions at Redoubt volcano in 1989-90.