Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Drones collect measurements from a volcanic plume at Volcán de Fuego, Guatemala

12.04.2017

A team of volcanologists and engineers from the Universities of Bristol and Cambridge have collected measurements from directly within volcanic clouds, together with visual and thermal images of inaccessible volcano peaks.

During a ten-day research trip the team carried out many proof-of-concept flights at the summits of both Volcán de Fuego and Volcán de Pacaya in Guatemala. Using lightweight modern sensors they measured temperature, humidity and thermal data within the volcanic clouds and took images of multiple eruptions in real-time.


Volcán de Fuego (near with plume), neighbouring Volcán de Acatenango, and Volcán de Agua (far). Picture taken on a BVLOS long-range flight.

Credit: Universities of Bristol, Cambridge and INSIVUMEH

This is one of the first times that bespoke fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have been used at a volcano such as Fuego, where the lack of close access to the summit vent has prevented robust gas measurements. Funding from the Cabot Institute has helped the team to develop technologies to enable this capability. The UAVs were successfully flown beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) at distances of up to 8 kilometres away, and 10,000 feet above the launch site.

The group plan to return to Guatemala later in the year with a wider range of sensors including a multiGAS gas analyser (CO2, SO2, H2S); a four-stage filter pack; carbon stubs for ash sampling; thermal and visual cameras, and atmospheric sensors.

Dr Emma Liu, Volcanologist from the Department of Earth Sciences at Cambridge, said: "Volcanoes are prodigious sources of volatiles and trace metals and have a key role in the geochemical cycling of these elements through the Earth system.

Drones offer an invaluable solution to the challenges of in-situ sampling and routine monitoring of volcanic emissions, particularly those where the near-vent region is prohibitively hazardous or inaccessible. These sensors not only help to understand emissions from volcanoes, they could also be used in the future to help alert local communities of impending eruptions - particularly if the flights can be automated."

Dr Tom Richardson, Senior Lecturer in Flight Dynamics in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Bristol, explained: "Building on our award winning work on Ascension Island, the team carried out multiple beyond-visual-line-of-sight (BVLOS) flights from the observatory flying up to 10,000 feet above the launch site to reach the summit of Volcán de Fuego. Our success has resulted in direct invitations from the Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil and Instituto Nacional de Sismología, Vulcanología, Meteorología e Hidrología to return and continue this ground-breaking work."

Dr Kieran Wood, Senior Research Associate in the Department of Aerospace Engineering at Bristol, added: "Even during this initial campaign we were able to meet significant science and engineering targets. For example, multiple imaging flights over several days captured the rapidly changing topography of Fuego's summit. These showed that the volcano was erupting from not just one, but two active summit vents."

Ben Schellenberg, a first year Aerospace Engineering PhD student at Bristol, expressed: "Being involved in a field trip of this type so early on in my PhD has been incredibly exciting. Initial analysis of the sensor and flight data tell us that we will be able to automatically identify when we are in volcanic emissions. I can't wait to return to test out this hypothesis."

Taking time out from their sample flights, the research group also used their aircraft to map the topology of a barranca and the volcanic deposits within it. These deposits were formed by a recent pyroclastic flow, a fast-moving cloud of superheated ash and gas, which travelled down the barranca from Fuego. The data captured will assist in modelling flow pathways and the potential impact of future volcanic eruptions on nearby settlements.

Dr Matt Watson, Reader in Natural Hazards in the School of Earth Sciences at Bristol, said: "This is exciting initial research for future investigations, and would not be possible without a very close collaboration between volcanology and engineering."

The team of engineers and volcanologists involved in the research trip were: Dr Colin Greatwood, Dr Tom Richardson, Ben Schellenberg, Dr Helen Thomas, Dr Matt Watson, Dr Kieran Wood from the University of Bristol and Dr Emma Liu from the University of Cambridge.

Media Contact

Joanne Fryer
joanne.fryer@bristol.ac.uk
44-011-733-17276

 @BristolUni

http://www.bristol.ac.uk 

Joanne Fryer | EurekAlert!

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Scientists discover Earth's youngest banded iron formation in western China
12.07.2018 | University of Alberta

nachricht Drones survey African wildlife
11.07.2018 | Schweizerischer Nationalfonds SNF

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Research finds new molecular structures in boron-based nanoclusters

13.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

Algae Have Land Genes

13.07.2018 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>