Volcano Monitoring using Satellite Ranging Technology

Volcano activity can be detected using different means and technologies, e.g. by gaseous extinctions, earthquakes or ground deformation etc.  Currently, there are various technologies applied for monitoring ground deformation, for example RADAR interferometry, seismometers measuring earthquakes, tiltmeters measuring differences in inclination over time or GPS systems measuring variation of distances.  Such monitoring systems and equipment are rather costly and so limited in number of measuring stations at one volcano and in the total number of volcanoes that are monitored.

Our objective in this study was to analyse the feasibility of using available satellite ranging technology – currently used for positioning of geostationary satellites – for the purpose of monitoring ground deformation.  The available techniques seem to be much cheaper to be implemented due to the use of standard equipment, like satellite receivers and antennas for bi-directional telecommunication. 

This feasibility study was implemented by a team composed of space engineers and geo-scientists from the University Luxembourg, SES Astra and LuxSpace.  The project is supported by the European Centre for Geodynamics and Seismology, based in Walferdange (GD Luxembourg).

The findings of the 8-months study showed that the required geometric accuracy can be met with the analysed technologies. Nevertheless, further development of the techniques will require huge efforts in terms of software and hardware development.  This will then lead to a negative cost-benefit ratio compared to the currently available operational equipment.
For further information please contact LuxSpace.