Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists improve forecast of increasing hazard on Ecuadorian volcano


Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, the Italian Space Agency (ASI), and the Instituto Geofisico--Escuela Politecnica Nacional (IGEPN) of Ecuador, showed an increasing volcanic danger on Cotopaxi in Ecuador using a powerful technique known as Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR).

The Andes region in which Cotopaxi volcano is located is known to contain some of the world's most serious volcanic hazard. A mid- to large-size eruption has the potential to instantaneously melt the summit glacier, resulting in devastating mudflows that would intersect with several towns in the Inter-Andean valley--one of the most densely populated regions of Ecuador.

This is the Cotopaxi volcano, Andes Mountain region of Ecuador.

Credit: B. Bernard, courtesy of IG

In August 2015, after four months of increasing seismic tremors and gas emissions, Cotopaxi began to erupt.

"Using the InSAR technique, we were able to detect three centimeters of ground inflation along one flank of the volcano during the pre-eruption period," said Anieri Morales-Rivera, a UM Rosenstiel School graduate student and lead author of the study.

... more about:
»Atmospheric »Ecuador »InSAR »SAR »satellite data »volcano

Ground inflation occurs when new magma moves closer to the surface.

The results of the study are supported by ground-based GPS instruments operated around the volcano by the IGEPN, the Ecuadorian agency responsible for monitoring Cotopaxi.

"From our instruments, we knew there was serious activity within Cotopaxi," said Patricia Mothes, a chief volcanologist at the IGEPN and coauthor of the study. "The satellite data allowed us to pinpoint where the uplift took place, which in turn helped us better understand how the magma ascended prior to the eruption."

ASI begun acquiring the SAR imagery in this region half a year before Cotopaxi's unrest started. Although ASI did not know the eruption was imminent, they were aware of the high risks related to Cotopaxi because of their involvement with Geohazard Supersites and Natural Laboratories (GSNL), a recently formed international initiative between space agencies, volcano monitoring agencies and researchers. The objective of the initiative is to better utilize advanced satellite resources for the monitoring of geological activity and to mitigate the development of a crisis.

"Our work would not have been possible without the many images that ASI had acquired," said Falk Amelung, a UM Rosenstiel School professor in the Department of Marine Geosciences and a coauthor of the study.

Amelung also noted that the accuracy of the InSAR technique improves with the increased availability of SAR images.

"This satellite data will play an increasingly important role for the monitoring and the study of Ecuadorian volcanoes, said Mothes. "Since it is not possible for us to place dense measurement networks on all potentially active sites in Ecuador --since there are about 40 potentially active volcanoes."

Future eruptions of the Cotopaxi volcano are expected to be preceded by similar or greater ground inflation. With the GSNL framework in place, Cotopaxi continues to be monitored from space, making it easier to prepare for the next eruption.


The study, titled "Ground deformation before the 2015 eruptions of Cotopaxi volcano detected by InSAR," appeared in the July 3, 2017 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters. The coauthors of the study include: Anieri Morales-Rivera and Falk Amelung from the UM Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; Patricia Mothes and Paul Jarrin from the Instituto Geofísico--Escuela Politécnica Nacional in Quito, Ecuador; Sang-Hoon Hong, from the Pusan National University's Department of Geological Sciences in South Korea; and Jean-Mathieu Nocquet from the Geoazur, IRD, Observatoire de la Côte d'Azur at the Université Côte d'Azur, in France.

Funding for the study was provided by NASA's Earth Science Division, grant number NNX14AL39G and NSF Cooperative grant number EAR-0735156.

DOI : 10.1002/2017GL073720

About the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School

The University of Miami is one of the largest private research institutions in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940's, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world's premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, visit:

Diana Udel | EurekAlert!

Further reports about: Atmospheric Ecuador InSAR SAR satellite data volcano

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Gas hydrate research: Advanced knowledge and new technologies
23.03.2018 | Helmholtz-Zentrum Potsdam - Deutsches GeoForschungsZentrum GFZ

nachricht New technologies and computing power to help strengthen population data
22.03.2018 | University of Southampton

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Space observation with radar to secure Germany's space infrastructure

Satellites in near-Earth orbit are at risk due to the steady increase in space debris. But their mission in the areas of telecommunications, navigation or weather forecasts is essential for society. Fraunhofer FHR therefore develops radar-based systems which allow the detection, tracking and cataloging of even the smallest particles of debris. Satellite operators who have access to our data are in a better position to plan evasive maneuvers and prevent destructive collisions. From April, 25-29 2018, Fraunhofer FHR and its partners will exhibit the complementary radar systems TIRA and GESTRA as well as the latest radar techniques for space observation across three stands at the ILA Berlin.

The "traffic situation" in space is very tense: the Earth is currently being orbited not only by countless satellites but also by a large volume of space...

Im Focus: Researchers Discover New Anti-Cancer Protein

An international team of researchers has discovered a new anti-cancer protein. The protein, called LHPP, prevents the uncontrolled proliferation of cancer cells in the liver. The researchers led by Prof. Michael N. Hall from the Biozentrum, University of Basel, report in “Nature” that LHPP can also serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of liver cancer.

The incidence of liver cancer, also known as hepatocellular carcinoma, is steadily increasing. In the last twenty years, the number of cases has almost doubled...

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

New solar solutions for sustainable buildings and cities

23.03.2018 | Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

For graphite pellets, just add elbow grease

23.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Unique communication strategy discovered in stem cell pathway controlling plant growth

23.03.2018 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

Sharpening the X-ray view of the nanocosm

23.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>