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Volcanological applications of unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS): Developments, strategies, and future challenges

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

  • Mike James
  • Brett Carr
  • Fiona D'Arcy
  • Angela Diefenbach
  • Hannah Dietterich
  • Allesandro Fornaciai
  • Einat Lev
  • Emma Liu
  • David Pieri
  • Mel Rodgers
  • Benoît Smets
  • Akihiko Terada
  • Felix von Aulock
  • Thomas Walter
  • Kieran Wood
  • Edgar Zorn
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>9/04/2020
Issue number1
Number of pages48
Pages (from-to)67-114
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS) are developing into fundamental tools for tackling the grand challenges in volcanology; here, we review the systems used and their diverse applications. UAS can typically provide image and topographic data at two orders of magnitude better spatial resolution than space-based remote sensing, and close-range observations at temporal resolutions down to those of video frame rates. Responsive deployments facilitate dense time-series measurements, unique opportunities for geophysical surveys, sample collection from hostile environments such as volcanic plumes and crater lakes, and emergency deployment of ground-based sensors (and robots) into hazardous regions. UAS have already been used to support hazard management and decisionmakers during eruptive crises. As technologies advance, increased system capabilities, autonomy, and availability—supported by more diverse and lighter-weight sensors—will offer unparalleled potential for hazard monitoring. UAS are expected to provide opportunities for pivotal advances in our understanding of complex physical and chemical volcanic processes.