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An emergent strategy for volcano hazard assessment: From thermal satellite monitoring to lava flow modeling

Remote Sensing of Environment
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.rse.2011.12.021
  • Etna Volcano
  • Infrared Remote Sensing
  • Numerical Simulation
  • Gis
  • Lava Hazard Assessment
  • Agricultural Science


Abstract Spaceborne remote sensing techniques and numerical simulations have been combined in a web-GIS framework ([email protected]) to evaluate lava flow hazard in real time. By using the HOTSAT satellite thermal monitoring system to estimate time-varying TADR (time averaged discharge rate) and the MAGFLOW physics-based model to simulate lava flow paths, the [email protected] platform allows timely definition of parameters and maps essential for hazard assessment, including the propagation time of lava flows and the maximum run-out distance. We used [email protected] during the 2008–2009 lava flow-forming eruption at Mt Etna (Sicily, Italy). We measured the temporal variation in thermal emission (up to four times per hour) during the entire duration of the eruption using SEVIRI and MODIS data. The time-series of radiative power allowed us to identify six diverse thermal phases each related to different dynamic volcanic processes and associated with different TADRs and lava flow emplacement conditions. Satellite-derived estimates of lava discharge rates were computed and integrated for the whole period of the eruption (almost 14months), showing that a lava volume of between 32 and 61million cubic meters was erupted of which about 2/3 was emplaced during the first 4months. These time-varying discharge rates were then used to drive MAGFLOW simulations to chart the spread of lava as a function of time. TADRs were sufficiently low (<30m3/s) that no lava flows were capable of flowing any great distance so that they did not pose a hazard to vulnerable (agricultural and urban) areas on the flanks of Etna.

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