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 NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs
11.12.2018 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht ETRI exchanged quantum information on daylight in a free-space quantum key distribution
10.12.2018 | National Research Council of Science & Technology

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

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

Im Focus: Topological material switched off and on for the first time

Key advance for future topological transistors

Over the last decade, there has been much excitement about the discovery, recognised by the Nobel Prize in Physics only two years ago, that there are two types...

Im Focus: Researchers develop method to transfer entire 2D circuits to any smooth surface

What if a sensor sensing a thing could be part of the thing itself? Rice University engineers believe they have a two-dimensional solution to do just that.

Rice engineers led by materials scientists Pulickel Ajayan and Jun Lou have developed a method to make atom-flat sensors that seamlessly integrate with devices...

Im Focus: Three components on one chip

Scientists at the University of Stuttgart and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) succeed in important further development on the way to quantum Computers.

Quantum computers one day should be able to solve certain computing problems much faster than a classical computer. One of the most promising approaches is...

Im Focus: Substitute for rare earth metal oxides

New Project SNAPSTER: Novel luminescent materials by encapsulating phosphorescent metal clusters with organic liquid crystals

Nowadays energy conversion in lighting and optoelectronic devices requires the use of rare earth oxides.

Im Focus: A bit of a stretch... material that thickens as it's pulled

Scientists have discovered the first synthetic material that becomes thicker - at the molecular level - as it is stretched.

Researchers led by Dr Devesh Mistry from the University of Leeds discovered a new non-porous material that has unique and inherent "auxetic" stretching...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

New Plastics Economy Investor Forum - Meeting Point for Innovations

10.12.2018 | Event News

EGU 2019 meeting: Media registration now open

06.12.2018 | Event News

Expert Panel on the Future of HPC in Engineering

03.12.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Electronic evidence of non-Fermi liquid behaviors in an iron-based superconductor

11.12.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Topological material switched off and on for the first time

11.12.2018 | Materials Sciences

NIST's antenna evaluation method could help boost 5G network capacity and cut costs

11.12.2018 | Information Technology

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>