12 Jun 2012
The study of major geophysical hazards such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, in which member organizations of GEO (Group on Earth Observation, the intergovernmental organization working towards the establishment of GEOSS, the Global system of Earth Observation Systems) have been involved for many years, has an extra weapon. And it’s an Italian "weapon".
The Earth observation satellite system COSMO-SkyMed, developed by ASI and the Ministry of Defense and consisting of four satellites equipped with X band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), has made data sets for the analysis of these phenomena valuable to "GEOHAZARD SUPERSITES", the GEO project dedicated to the study of geophysical hazard areas.
More precisely, COSMO-SkyMed will provide an annual quota of about 100 images of the Hawaiian area. The choice primarily fell on this particular area because it is one that, thanks to the stream of data provided by the Italian system, has the most complete sets of information: it is therefore the setting from which the most interesting scientific developments can be expected.
The Italian Space Agency (ASI) has thus executed that which was found last November in Lucca during the 25th plenary meeting of CEOS (Committee on Earth Observation Satellites, International Coordination Committee for Earth Observation satellite missions), which closed the year chaired by Italy, led by the ASI number one, Enrico Saggese.
Some information provided by COSMO-SkyMed on Hawaii, particularly that on the Kilauea volcano, one of the most active in the world, were already made available to researchers in the past. For example, the imagine here on the upper right shows the surface deformation measured by COSMO-SkyMed on the Kilauea volcano in the period from March 5 to March 9, 2011. Each color cycle represents a surface displacement of approximately 1.5 cm in the direction of the satellite’s line of sight. The interferogram on the left is calculated from data taken during the ascending orbit, while on the right along the descending orbit. The data were processed by P. Lundgren (JPL).
The results of these studies have shown that the information obtained with the COSMO-SkyMed data have proven extraordinarily effective in monitoring the movements of the volcano’s surface, and will undoubtedly contribute to further deepening the knowledge of the internal dynamics of volcanoes and to study their sources.
The main objective of the GEOHAZARD SUPERSITES project is to make sets of geophysical data, as complete as possible, available to the international scientific community (both with satellite and in situ measurements) "dedicated" to some selected areas of the globe, aiming to an interdisciplinary approach to the understanding of these natural phenomena.
For this purpose, four candidate sites have been defined to become earthquake "Supersites" (Tokyo, Vancouver-Seattle, Los Angeles and Istanbul) and 4 for volcanoes (Mt Fuji, Mount Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei, Mount Etna and Hawaii ).
Attached are two images showing the surface deformation measured by COSMO-SkyMed on the Kilauea volcano in the period March 5-9, 2011.