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Continuous monitoring of Hawaiian volcanoes with thermal cameras

Matthew R Patrick*, Tim Orr, Loren Antolik, Lopaka Lee and Kevan Kamibayashi

Author Affiliations

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory—US Geological Survey, PO Box 51, Hawai‘i National Park, HI, 96718, USA

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Journal of Applied Volcanology 2014, 3:1  doi:10.1186/2191-5040-3-1

Published: 21 January 2014


Continuously operating thermal cameras are becoming more common around the world for volcano monitoring, and offer distinct advantages over conventional visual webcams for observing volcanic activity. Thermal cameras can sometimes “see” through volcanic fume that obscures views to visual webcams and the naked eye, and often provide a much clearer view of the extent of high temperature areas and activity levels. We describe a thermal camera network recently installed by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory to monitor Kīlauea’s summit and east rift zone eruptions (at Halema‘uma‘u and Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō craters, respectively) and to keep watch on Mauna Loa’s summit caldera. The cameras are long-wave, temperature-calibrated models protected in custom enclosures, and often positioned on crater rims close to active vents. Images are transmitted back to the observatory in real-time, and numerous Matlab scripts manage the data and provide automated analyses and alarms. The cameras have greatly improved HVO’s observations of surface eruptive activity, which includes highly dynamic lava lake activity at Halema‘uma‘u, major disruptions to Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō crater and several fissure eruptions.

Webcams; infrared; Kilauea; Mauna Loa; temperature