Development of an international research group in hyperspectral thermal remote sensing of volcanic processes and terrains

Lead Research Organisation: University of Hull
Department Name: Geography


This project will develop a new international collaboration between a UK-based research team, with expertise in both volcanic processes and Earth Observation Science, the Nordic Volcanological Centre at the University of Iceland (UoI) and the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland (GEUS). The main goal is to establish the potential of thermal wavelength hyperspectral emissivity data to map volcanic surfaces and lava types, and advance our knowledge of the processes that influence the location, nature and severity of volcanic activity.
Thermal wavelength hyperspectral data offers the potential to overcome the limitations of both traditional field-based mapping and current (spectral reflectance based) remote-sensing methods and provide a step-change in the range and quality of mineralogical, lithological and morphological datasets retrieved over volcanic terrains. Thermal hyperspectral data also has the potential to resolve key physical parameters and processes detectable at the surface, such as temperature and the type and concentration of gas emissions.
The principal scientific aim of this project is to resolve the capability of thermal wavelength hyperspectral emissivity data to map volcanic surfaces and lava types. We also seek to place robust constraints on the movement of lava flows and how this can help with hazard mitigation. This project would enable the skills and experience of the UK and UoI research teams to be integrated and assist the development of spectral emissivity and thermal inertia mapping into robust, operational observational methodologies. The specific objectives of this project are to:

1. Create a database of spectral emissivity and reflectance measurements from a representative range of volcanic samples and sites using laboratory and field-based measurements.
2. Quantify the capability of an integrated spectral emissivity and reflectance dataset to resolve the diagnostic mineralogical information required to classify the key lithologies in volcanic terrains.
3. Quantify the spatial variability in the effect of (i) surface roughness, (ii) compositional heterogeneity, (iii) grain size, (iv) topography, (v) downwelling longwave radiation and (vi) viewing angle on emissivity spectra received at-sensor from the sample-to-site-to-landscape scales at a variety of volcanic terrains.
4. Resolve the optimum sampling, spectral and temporal resolutions and capabilities of thermal inertia mapping at a representative range of volcanic terrains.
5. Integrate field and UAV hyperspectral thermal datasets with (i) the airborne hyperspectral datasets acquired over the field sites in Iceland by the NERC ARF and (ii) the recent acquisition of NERC ARF thermal wave range data over a number of volcanic study sites in Iceland.
6. Determine the optimum spatial and spectral resolutions for ground, airborne and satellite-based thermal hyperspectral instruments by retrieving the greatest amount of mineralogical and lithological analysis at the highest possible signal-to-noise ratio.
This proposal provides an outstanding opportunity to integrate the research outputs from recent NERC funded research by the research team with significant investment by NERC in airborne and ground Earth Observation Instrumentation and data processing (Field Spectroscopy Facility; Airborne Research Facility & ARF-Data Analysis Node). This will develop a robust, operational methodology that will enable the remote mapping of lithological, mineralogical and petrological information of igneous rocks, at site-to-landscapes scales, that is not currently possible using remote sensing based approaches.

The capabilities of the Imaging FTIR developed by Ferrier to acquire ultra-high spatial, spectral and temporal hyperspectral thermal waverange datasets from both the ground and a UAV will provide a means of accurately quantifying the capabilities of the OWL instrument to identify volcanic rocks compositions and structures.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit

This project will have an immediate and significant impact on Volcanologists. The results of this project will provide a new, comprehensive, thorough assessment of the capability of thermal wavelength hyperspectral emissivity data to map volcanic surfaces and lava types.

Specific outcomes include an assessment of the capability of the new low mass, low power Imaging FTIR (MicroFTS), developed with NERC funding by the applicants, to identify volcanic rock composition, surface temperature and fugitive gas emission locations, types and concentrations from ground and UAV-based platforms. In addition the project will give an assessment of the OWL instrument (operated by NERC-ARF) to resolve volcanic rock composition. Once volcanologists are aware of the capabilities of these sensors they will be able to plan data acquisition campaigns to enable the OWL and MicroFTS data to be acquired under the optimum acquisition configurations and using the most suitable sampling protocols. Creation of comprehensive, representative spectral reflectance and emissivity libraries of a wide range of igenous rock types using the extensive hand specimen collections of all the project collaborators will be a very important initial outcome of the project and will be made available to all geoscientists by creating ASCII and ENVI-formatted datasets stored on a project website.

The project will also provide invaluable information to Earth Observation Scientists. The development of the optimum sampling protocols for ground data acquisition using an integrated MicroFTS and Terrestrial Laser Scanner (TLS) approach will be very useful to the FSF. Quantification of the influences of environmental factors, e.g. surface topography, cloud cover, variable illumination on the quality and consistency of the ground hyperspectral imagery will be very useful for all Earth Observation Scientists interested in using the OWL and the MicroFTS.

Classification of the integrated image datasets will enable a high level of geological analysis to be automatically implemented at high spatial resolution, over continuous areas from site-to-basin scales. The ability to automatically resolve specific lithologies and minerals at scales ranging from site-to-landscape would provide a step-change in the volume and quality of spatial geological datasets available.

Associated with this grant Ferrier started the RSPSoc Special Interest Group in Thermal Remote Sensing and organised a number of workshops on thermal remote sensing which have involved contributions from a wide range of academic and industry. This user community has continued to grow and the interest and demand for thermal remote sensing datasets and access to thermal instrumentation has increased significantly.

This project would utilise a similar approach to the successful approach implemented previously. The results of the laboratory evaluation tests will be utilised to provide relevant case histories for presentation as themed workshops at both academic and industry relevant conferences with the aim of engaging both an academic and commercial audience and develop sub-networks.

Milestones and measures of success. Number of science and technology research projects developed from this proposal. Active participation in workshops and newsletters. A large number of hits and feedback on the project website. Media publication/broadcasts of research work.


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Description we have collated a range of thermal spectral remote sensing datasets of volcanoes
Exploitation Route there are a wide range of opportunities to exploit the results of this project
Sectors Energy,Environment

Description the finding have been used to develop new research proposals
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Environment
Impact Types Societal