Using Differential SAR Interferometry (DInSAR), scientists at the Institute for the Electromagnetic Sensing of the Environment (IREA) of the Italian National Research Council (CNR) mapped the changes in the caldera – a ring-shaped region which includes several volcanoes – and discovered the area has uplifted about 2.8 centimetres from 2005 to 2006.
Geodetical monitoring of the Phlegrean Fields, located 25 kilometres west of Vesuvius, has historically been carried out by the Vesuvius Observatory – the world’s oldest volcano observatory – through terrestrial networks. Since 2002, the Observatory has included satellite-derived data in its Surveillance Reports, an innovation following a project with ESA called MINERVA (Monitoring by Interferometric SAR of Environmental Risk in Volcanic Areas).
Geodetic ground networks can provide very high accuracy deformation information, but only within the network layout, so any change in deformation beyond the area covered is lost.Among the terrestrial methods, levelling, which obtains the vertical component of ground motion, is the oldest. Levelling is based on height measurements carried out on single points called benchmarks, which together constitute the levelling network. The number of benchmarks has been continuously increasing during the last three decades. As a result, the levelling data set of the area is quite large and allows for the retrieval of the geodetic information starting from the end of the 1960s to present.
Still, levelling is costly in money and time. Obtaining measurements across a network is a lengthy process - the Phlegrean Fields network has more than 300 benchmarks – as is the consequent data processing. Typically levelling is only carried out once or twice a year.
The poor temporal sampling of terrestrial network data is greatly improved by using DInSAR techniques, considering the revisiting time of satellite sensors with respect to the possible repetition time of field measurements.The analysis conducted on these satellite observations, together with that obtained by using traditional geodetic measurements, has been transmitted to the Italian Civil Protection as a part of the duty of the Vesuvius Observatory.
Frank Martin Seifert | EurekAlert!
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