Earth Engine Volcanoes

Hello everyone! I hope you're all having a nice New Years Eve as you read this. Last month, I heard that Google had updated its Earth Engine Timelapse tool to include Landsat images right up to 2016. If you haven't heard of Earth Engine, it's an incredible platform developed for the analysis of geospatial datasets. The Timelapse feature on the website means you can watch how the Earth has changed over 30 years. This includes watching cities expanding, lakes and glaciers shrinking, or, as I will show in this post, how volcanoes can come to life and shape our planet.

So for this post, I have browsed through the Timelapse tool to bring you some of the best examples of volcanic activity that you can see. A lot of credit should also go to David Pyle, who produced a similar post way back in 2013.


Note to mobile users: Unfortunately the Earth Engine Timelapse feature has not yet been optimised for mobile browsers. I highly recommend you read this post on a desktop browser.

Big things at Santiaguito, Guatemala

Last week Anthony Lamur and I were back in Guatemala to collect more observations from Santiaguito volcano. The fieldwork was prompted by the occurrence of several very large eruptions at the volcano in 2016 (like those in the image above), a departure from the regular but relatively small explosions that are typical of the place. What we wanted to know was what mechanism is driving the much larger explosions?

Our task for the trip was simple: we would camp on Santa Maria and watch Santiaguito for a few days with optical and thermal cameras to record any explosions. We also deployed a temporary acoustic microphone to record the infrasound produced by the explosion. It turned out to be a whole lot more complex and difficult, mostly because of the rainy season. However, while we did not see any eruptions, we did manage to get glimpses of the vent and were woken up by a large explosion in the early hours of June 13th.

What we saw during the few hours of visibility each day was very inte…

Boom! Analysing explosions at Santiaguito, Guatemala

If you have been following myself or Liverpool Volcanology, you will probably know that the group has been carrying out an extensive amount of fieldwork around Santiaguito volcano in Guatemala. You can read about those trips in previous posts here, by Felix on GeoLog, and an amazing article by Nathanial Hoffman. For this post, I'll be writing about the first of hopefully many articles to come out of our efforts, published in Geophysical Research Letters.

The article, put together by Silvio de Angelis, details how we used infrasound and infrared thermal data to characterise small explosions at Santiaguito. This analysis was also complemented by measurements of ash collected after the explosions.  What we wanted to know was: how much ash is in the explosion plume, and how fast and high is it being injected into the atmosphere?

Back in November 2014, we successfully deployed four infrasound microphones around the active Caliente vent at Santiaguito. Using this data, we can carry out …

Unzen fieldwork: Guest post by Becky Coats

This is a guest post by Becky Coats, a volcanology postgraduate here at the University of Liverpool. She has written about her amazing recent fieldwork to Unzen volcano in Japan!  

Meet the A Team: Mission Unzen-Fugen, feat. (left to right, top to bottom) Claire Harnett, Paul Wallace, Dr. Mark Thomas, Dr. Takahiro Miwa, James AshworthDr. Jackie Kendrick, Prof. Yan Lavallée, and me!

This trip was a collaboration between the University of Liverpool (Jackie, Yan, Paul, James and myself), the University of Leeds (Mark and Claire) and the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, Japan (Taka). Those of us from UK universities were in Japan from the 8th to the 20th of May and were granted permission for 6 days work on the lava dome each armed with our own specialist tasks but with one collaborative question: How stable is the dome today?

My assignment was to collect samples from a near by pyroclastic deposit that represent the range of material (from dense to …

Unzen and the inclined spine

Another week, another cheeky self-promoting post. This time, I have published a new paper in Solid Earthon my research on the eruption of Unzen volcano in Japan. The project involves a volcanic spine, thousands of volcanic earthquakes, and a whole medley of analytical tools. Interested? Read on...

Let's start from the beginning. Lava spines are a curious and spectacular formation found at volcanoes around the world. These plugs of lava are squeezed out of lava domes during eruptions, grinding as they go, and eventually reaching hundreds of metres in size. One such spine grew at Unzen volcano in Japan in 1994, and is the focus of the new paper. Extensive field and experimental investigations have already looked this event (e.g. Adrian already wrote about his research in a previous post), but my research was looking at whether seismic data recorded could help shed more light on the processes occurring as the spine grew.

So what exactly happened during the eruption at Unzen volcano i…