Thermal mapping of Hawaiian volcanoes with ASTER satellite data

Scientific Investigations Report 2011-5110

ORCID iD and



Thermal mapping of volcanoes is important to determine baseline thermal behavior in order to judge future thermal activity that may precede an eruption. We used cloud-free kinetic temperature images from the ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) sensor obtained between 2000 and 2010 to produce thermal maps for all five subaerial volcanoes in Hawai‘i that have had eruptions in the Holocene (Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, Mauna Kea, and Haleakalā). We stacked the images to provide time-averaged thermal maps, as well as to analyze temperature trends through time. Thermal areas are conspicuous at the summits and rift zones of Kīlauea and Mauna Loa, and the summit calderas of these volcanoes contain obvious arcuate, concentric linear thermal areas that probably result from channeling of rising gas along buried, historical intracaldera scarps. The only significant change in thermal activity noted in the study period is the opening of the Halema‘uma‘u vent at Kīlauea's summit in 2008. Several small thermal anomalies are coincident with pit craters on Hualālai. We suspect that these simply result from the sheltered nature of the depression, but closer inspection is warranted to determine if genuine thermal activity exists in the craters. Thermal areas were not detected on Haleakalā or Mauna Kea. The main limitation of the study is the large pixel size (90 m) of the ASTER images, which reduces our ability to detect subtle changes or to identify small, low-temperature thermal activity. This study, therefore, is meant to characterize the broad, large-scale thermal features on these volcanoes. Future work should study these thermal areas with thermal cameras and thermocouples, which have a greater ability to detect small, low-temperature thermal features.

Study Area

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Thermal mapping of Hawaiian volcanoes with ASTER satellite data
Series title:
Scientific Investigations Report
Series number:
Year Published:
U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location:
Reston, VA
Contributing office(s):
Volcano Science Center, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
iv, 22 p.
Time Range Start:
Time Range End:
United States
Other Geospatial:
Kilauea;Mauna Loa;Haulalai;Mauna Kea;Haleakala
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