DUCKS: Low cost thermal monitoring units for near-vent deployment

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



During 1999 we designed and tested a thermal monitoring system to provide a cheap, robust, modular, real-time system capable of surviving the hostile conditions encountered proximal to active volcanic vents. In November 2000 the first system was deployed at Pu'u 'O'o (Kilauea, Hawai'i) to target persistently active vents. Aside from some minor problems, such as sensor damage due to tampering, this system remained operational until January 2004. The success of the prototype system led us to use the blueprint for a second installation at Stromboli (Aeolian Islands, Italy). This was deployed, dug into a bomb-proof bunker, during May 2002 and survived the April 2003 paroxysmal eruption despite being located just 250 m from the vent. In both cases, careful waterproofing of connectors and selection of suitable protection has prevented water damage and corrosion in the harsh atmosphere encountered at the crater rim.

The Pu'u 'O'o system cost ∼US$10,000 and comprises four modules: sensors, transmission and power hub, repeater station and reception site. The sensor component consists of three thermal infrared thermometers housed in Pelican™ cases fitted with Germanium–Arsenide–Selenium windows. Two 1° field of view(FOV) sensors allow specific vents to be targeted and a 60° FOV sensor provides a crater floor overview. A hard wire connection links to a Pelican™-case-housed microprocessor, modem and power module. From here data are transmitted, via a repeater site, to a dedicated PC at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. Here data are displayed with a delay of ∼3 s between acquisition and display. The modular design allows for great flexibility. At Stromboli, 1° and 15° FOV sensor modules can be switched depending changes in activity style and crater geometry. In addition a direct line of site to the Stromboli reception center negates the repeater site requirement, reducing the cost to US$5500 for a single sensor system.

We have also constructed self-contained units with internal data loggers for US$1500/unit. These have been tested at Kilauea, Stromboli, Etna, Masaya, Santiaguito, Fuego, Pacaya, Poas, Soufriere Hills, Villarrica and Erta Ale. These instruments have proved capable of detecting thermal signals associated with: (1) gas emission; (2) gas jetting events; (3) crater floor collapse; (4) lava effusion; (5) lava flow in tubes; (6) lava lake activity; (7) lava dome activity; and (8) crater lake skin temperature.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title DUCKS: Low cost thermal monitoring units for near-vent deployment
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2004.12.007
Volume 143
Issue 4
Year Published 2005
Language English
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 26 p.
Larger Work Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
First page 335
Last page 360
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