3D Laser Mapping Etna’s Lava Flows

In by Sam Bentley

3D Laser Mapping has supplied a long range laser scanner to monitor volcanic lava flows on Mount Etna in Sicily. The scanner will be used to measure lava flow dynamics as part of a NERC (Natural Environment Research Council) funded research project at the Lancaster Environment Centre, Lancaster University, UK. The project aims to increase our understanding of volcanic activity by combining highly precise terrain measurements with ground based thermal imagery, to provide unprecedented data and a better understanding of active lava flows.

“This particular project will assist with the understanding of flow processes in lava eruptions and therefore help with the management of associated hazards. Being able to track changes in lava effusion rate relatively closely will enable us to look for clues as to when flows may suddenly increase their rate of advance or eruptions cease,” commented Dr Mike James, RCUK Fellow in Environmental Informatics and Project Supervisor.

The postgraduate research project ‘Quantifying lava flow dynamics with a very long range terrestrial laser scanner’ is sponsored by NERC and 3D Laser Mapping as a Cooperative Award in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentship. The project will provide the successful student with the opportunity to work with terrestrial laser scanning experts at 3D Laser Mapping, receiving instrument training and developing software designed specially to measure lava flow dynamics. The student will also work closely with the scientists responsible for monitoring Etna at the Instituto Natzionale de Geologia e Vulcanologis (INGV) in Cantania, Sicily, and be encouraged to present the project results at a number of international conferences.

Dr Graham Hunter, Managing Director of Nottingham based 3D Laser Mapping commented, “By supporting cutting edge research into the deployment of terrestrial laser scanning we can ensure the technology continues to develop in line with market demands.” He continued, “We can also benefit from the partnership by keeping up to date with the latest academic developments and theories.”

“Partnerships, such as the one with 3D Laser Mapping, are very important because they facilitate collaboration and knowledge transfer between academic researchers and UK businesses. Businesses gain from involvement with cutting edge research and researchers benefit from access to the additional expertise, facilities and experience provided by the commercial partner,” continued Dr James.

The CASE studentship will commence in October 2010 and applications are currently being requested. The project is also supported by the British Geological Survey, which has state of the art 3D software and visualisation capabilities.

Notes to Editors:    

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