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Quantifying effusion rates at active volcanoes through integrated time-lapse laser scanning and photography

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

  • Neil Slatcher
  • Michael James
  • Sonia Calvari
  • Gaetana Ganci
  • John Browning
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>10/11/2015
<mark>Journal</mark>Remote Sensing
Issue number11
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)14967-14987
<mark>Original language</mark>English


During volcanic eruptions, measurements of the rate at which magma is erupted underpin hazard assessments. For eruptions dominated by the effusion of lava, estimates are often made using satellite data; here, in a case study at Mount Etna (Sicily), we make the first measurements based on terrestrial laser scanning (TLS), and we also include explosive products. During the study period (17–21 July, 2012), regular strombolian explosions were occurring within the Bocca Nuova crater, producing a ~50 m high scoria cone and a small lava flow field. TLS surveys over multi-day intervals determined a mean cone growth rate (effusive and explosive products) of ~0.24 m3s-1. Differences between 0.3-m-resolution DEMs acquired at 10-minute intervals captured the evolution of a breakout lava flow lobe advancing at 0.01–0.03 m3s-1. Partial occlusion within the crater prevented similar measurement of the main flow, but integrating TLS data with time-lapse imagery enabled lava viscosity (7.4 × 105 Pa s) to be derived from surface velocities and, hence, a flux of 0.11 m3s-1 to be calculated. The total dense-rock equivalent magma discharge estimates range from ~0.1 to ~0.2 m3s-1 over the measurement period, and suggest that simultaneous estimates from satellite data are somewhat overestimated. Our results support the use of integrated TLS and time-lapse photography for ground-truthing space-based measurements and highlight the value of interactive image analysis when automated approaches such as particle image velocimetry (PIV) fail.