Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Computer scientists develop wireless system to monitor volcanoes

23.09.2004


Seismologists, Ecuadorian officials, area residents could benefit from improved data



A rumbling South American volcano has gone wireless: Computer scientists at Harvard University have teamed up with seismologists at the University of New Hampshire and University of North Carolina to fit an Ecuadorian peak with a wireless array to monitor volcanic activity. The sensors should help researchers, officials, and local residents understand and plan for eruptions of Tungarahua, one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes in recent years.

The researchers installed the wireless network on Tungarahua and captured 54 hours of data during a recent trip to the 5,016-meter mountain. The wireless system could eventually replace the wired sensors now used on Tungarahua and many other volcanoes. "Systems used to monitor volcanic activity rapidly capture huge amounts of data," says Matthew D. Welsh, assistant professor of computer science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. "The wired systems now used to monitor Tungarahua and other volcanoes are expensive, quickly exhaust batteries, and force people to trek up the slopes of a volcano every few days to retrieve the data that has accumulated."


Welsh and his colleagues fitted Tungarahua with a network of five tiny, low-power wireless sensor nodes equipped with a special microphone to monitor infrasonic (low-frequency acoustic) signals emitted during eruptions. Each runs on two AA batteries, is sealed in a waterproof container the size of a soap dish, and transmits data automatically to an observation post more than 5 miles away down the mountain.

Often rumbling and spewing ash and hot gas numerous times each day, Tungarahua ranks among Ecuador’s most threatening volcanoes. In 1999 the entire town of Banos, in Tungarahua’s shadow, was evacuated for several months after observations led scientists and government officials to believe, incorrectly, that a major eruption was imminent.

Wireless sensor networks represent a new kind of computing platform. They consist of small, low-power, wireless devices merging sensors with a small amount of computing power and storage. Sensor networks have been explored for applications such as habitat monitoring, medical care, and seismic analysis of structures; this effort is believed to be the first such application of wireless sensor networks to volcanic monitoring.

"This is a proof-of-concept that wired systems for monitoring volcanic activity can be replaced with wireless arrays," Welsh says. "Specifically, our work indicates that wireless systems can be used to follow long-term trends in volcanic activity that are of great interest to researchers. This long-term observation entails copious amounts of data that is difficult to obtain with wired monitoring systems. Seismologists are very excited about the possibilities here."

Seismologists and volcanologists use both seismic and infrasonic signals to monitor volcanic activity. Seismometers provide information on seismic waves propagating through the earth, but are poorly suited to discriminating eruptions from other activity such as earthquakes or mining operations. Infrasound waves, with a wavelength of less than 20 hertz, are characteristic of explosions and provide additional information not available with seismic monitoring.

Welsh and his colleagues now plan to develop a wireless seismometer to augment their infrasound array. The researchers also intend to deploy a larger network of some 20 nodes on Tungarahua, and may place wireless sensor networks on several other active volcanoes.

Welsh’s colleagues on this project are Geoff Werner-Allen at Harvard, Jeff Johnson at the University of New Hampshire, Mario Ruiz at the University of North Carolina and the Instituto Geofísico of the Escuela Politecnica Nacional in Ecuador, and Jonathan Lees at the University of North Carolina.

Steve Bradt | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.harvard.edu

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Five developments for improved data exploitation
19.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

nachricht Smart Manual Workstations Deliver More Flexible Production
04.04.2017 | Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz GmbH, DFKI

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Making lightweight construction suitable for series production

More and more automobile companies are focusing on body parts made of carbon fiber reinforced plastics (CFRP). However, manufacturing and repair costs must be further reduced in order to make CFRP more economical in use. Together with the Volkswagen AG and five other partners in the project HolQueSt 3D, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) has developed laser processes for the automatic trimming, drilling and repair of three-dimensional components.

Automated manufacturing processes are the basis for ultimately establishing the series production of CFRP components. In the project HolQueSt 3D, the LZH has...

Im Focus: Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics.

"The structural robustness of thin metal films has significant importance for the reliable operation of smart skin and flexible electronics including...

Im Focus: Deep inside Galaxy M87

The nearby, giant radio galaxy M87 hosts a supermassive black hole (BH) and is well-known for its bright jet dominating the spectrum over ten orders of magnitude in frequency. Due to its proximity, jet prominence, and the large black hole mass, M87 is the best laboratory for investigating the formation, acceleration, and collimation of relativistic jets. A research team led by Silke Britzen from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has found strong indication for turbulent processes connecting the accretion disk and the jet of that galaxy providing insights into the longstanding problem of the origin of astrophysical jets.

Supermassive black holes form some of the most enigmatic phenomena in astrophysics. Their enormous energy output is supposed to be generated by the...

Im Focus: A Quantum Low Pass for Photons

Physicists in Garching observe novel quantum effect that limits the number of emitted photons.

The probability to find a certain number of photons inside a laser pulse usually corresponds to a classical distribution of independent events, the so-called...

Im Focus: Microprocessors based on a layer of just three atoms

Microprocessors based on atomically thin materials hold the promise of the evolution of traditional processors as well as new applications in the field of flexible electronics. Now, a TU Wien research team led by Thomas Müller has made a breakthrough in this field as part of an ongoing research project.

Two-dimensional materials, or 2D materials for short, are extremely versatile, although – or often more precisely because – they are made up of just one or a...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Expert meeting “Health Business Connect” will connect international medical technology companies

20.04.2017 | Event News

Wenn der Computer das Gehirn austrickst

18.04.2017 | Event News

7th International Conference on Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaics in Freiburg on April 3-5, 2017

03.04.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Scientist invents way to trigger artificial photosynthesis to clean air

26.04.2017 | Materials Sciences

Ammonium nitrogen input increases the synthesis of anticarcinogenic compounds in broccoli

26.04.2017 | Agricultural and Forestry Science

SwRI-led team discovers lull in Mars' giant impact history

26.04.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>