GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre
for Ocean Research Kiel
Drone swarm | Volcanology drone group | Projects | Expeditions
Drones for volcanological research
A crucial tool for risk-mitigation in volcanic areas are up-to-date hazard maps that outline areas at risk of being affected by volcanic hazards. Topography reflects changes at the volcano (e.g. through deformation or lava flow emplacement) and is one main parameter influencing the advancement of several hazardous phenomena such as lahars or pyroclastic flows. The ever-changing landscape at volcanoes therefore requires frequent mapping campaigns in order to quantify those changes and obtain the topographic maps that serve as basis for the simulation and forecasting of future events. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) represent a cheap, fast and safe method to map and monitor volcanoes even during eruptions without endangering those performing the surveillance. GEOMAR offers a versatile state-of-the-art UAV swarm as well as the capability to generate high-resolution bathymetric maps, and thus can provide comprehensive maps of both the subaerial and submarine portion of coastal volcanoes - a crucial step towards understanding the volcanic system and forecasting hazardous phenomena like tsunamis. The UAVs are furthermore equipped with thermal cameras and we aim to develop various additional UAV-based sensors that will enable us to remotely measure important volcano monitoring and eruption parameters and thereby provide unique windows into otherwise inaccessible processes.