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

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.

Grant reference
Natural Environment Research Council
Total awarded
£35,627 GBP
Start date
1 Mar 2018
3 years 11 months 27 days
End date
28 Feb 2022