Tuesday, April 25, 2017

See Close-Up View Of Dangerous Volcano Eruptions Via Drone

Volcan de Fuego erupting

Eric Mack
12 Apr 2017
Forbes Magazine

Guatemala is known for its volcanoes — some spew lava slow enough that tourists can hike right up to the flows, while others are too violent for even the most dedicated volcanologists to go near.

One such rowdy caldera can be found at Volcán de Fuego, which erupts frequently, preventing access to the summit for scientists anxious to measure its emissions. Researchers and engineers from the Universities of Cambridge and Bristol flew fixed-wing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to observe and measure eruptions in their place.

The drones carried a suite of lightweight modern sensors to measure temperature, humidity and volcanic cloud thermal data while also taking some stunning photos and video footage of eruptions in real time from a rare (brave) bird’s eye view.

“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,” said Dr. Emma Liu, a volcanologist at Cambridge.

Multiple drone flights over several days revealed that the volcano was erupting from not one, but two active vents at the summit.

The group is already planning to return later in the year with even more sensors designed to gather more insights, including a gas analyzer, ash samplers, thermal and visual cameras, and atmospheric sensors.

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