University of Cambridge

To innovate observations of volcanic emissions with unmanned aerial systems

  • Amount $214,973
  • City Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • Investigator Emma Liu
  • Year 2018
  • Program Research
  • Sub-program Deep Carbon Observatory

A vexing problem in studies of volcanism, and outgassing more generally, is that there is much that satellites cannot see, but it is terribly dangerous to get close enough to measure emissions of interest when things are most active—and usually very hot. Drones could vastly improve the completeness of monitoring of outgassing, affordably. DECADE, the Deep Earth Carbon Degassing project, is a collaboration within the Deep Carbon Observatory that uses new and established technologies to determine accurate global fluxes of volcanic CO2 to the atmosphere. So far DECADE has installed CO2 monitoring networks on 20 of the world’s 150 most actively degassing volcanoes. Funds from this grant support efforts by Emma Nicholson Liu to pioneer integration of drones into volcanic monitoring by experimenting with their use in monitoring a pair of previously uncharacterized emission sources in Papua, New Guinea. In addition to drone development, deployment, and analysis of data, the team plans two short movies for general audiences.  

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