Volcanic Eruption

The Operational Land Imager (OLI) on the Landsat 8 satellite acquired this top image of Mount Etna on December 28, 2018. The image highlights the active vent and thermal infrared signature from lava flows, which can be seen near the newly formed fissure on the southeastern side of the volcano. The image was created with data from OLI (bands 4-3-2) and the Thermal Infrared Sensor (TIRS) on Landsat 8. Image: NASA.


A type of volcanic event near an opening/vent in the Earth’s surface including volcanic eruptions of lava, ash, hot vapour, gas, and pyroclastic material (IRDR Glossary).

The majority of volcanoes in the world form along the boundaries of Earth's tectonic plates. When tectonic plates collide, one often plunges deep below the other in what's known as a subduction zone. Not all volcanoes are related to subduction: another way volcanoes can form is what's known as hotspot volcanism. In this situation, a zone of magmatic activity—or a hotspot—in the middle of a tectonic plate can push up through the crust to form a volcano. Although the hotspot itself is thought to be largely stationary, the tectonic plates continue their slow march, building a line of volcanoes or islands on the surface (National Geographic).

A volcano is currently active if it is erupting lava, releasing gas or generating seismic activity. An active volcano is labelled dormant if it has not erupted for a long time but could erupt again in the future. When a volcano has been dormant for more than 10 000 years, it is considered extinct. Volcanoes can remain inactive, or dormant, for hundreds or thousands of years before erupting again. During this time, they can become covered by vegetation, making them difficult to identify.

How explosive a volcanic eruption is depends on how easily magma can flow or trap gas. If magma is able to trap a large amount of gas, it can produce explosive eruptions.  (Australian Government).


Facts and figures

Over the last 11,500 years, more than 1,500 major eruptions have occurred, with approximately 500 in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" alone (PreventionWeb).

There are volcanoes on every continent, even Antarctica. Some 1,500 volcanoes are still considered potentially active around the world today; 161 of those—over 10 percent—sit within the boundaries of the United States (National Geographic).

There are different types of eruptive events. We can distinguish between primary and secondary events.

Primary events are:

  • Pyroclastic explosions
  • Hot ash releases
  • Lava flows
  • Gas emissions
  • Glowing avalanches (gas and ash releases)

Secondary events are:

  • Melting ice, snow and rain accompanying eruptions are likely to provoke floods and hot mudflows (or lahars)
  • Hot ash releases can start fires (WHO).

Volcanoes can have many different appearances. The shape of a volcano provides clues to the type and size of eruption that occurred. Eruption types and sizes depend on what the magma is made up of. Three common volcano forms are:

  1. Shield volcano: have a broad, flattened dome-like shape created by layers of hot and runny lava flowing over its surface and cooling.
  2. Composite volcano : also known as stratovolcanoes, they are formed from explosive eruptions. These eruptions create steep sided cones.
  3. Caldera volcano: these volcanoes erupt so explosively that little material builds up near the vent. Eruptions partly or entirely empty the underlying magma chamber which leaves the region around the vent unsupported, causing it to sink or collapse under its own weight. The resulting basin-shaped depression is roughly circular and is usually several kilometres or more in diameter (Australian Government).

Related content on the Knowledge Portal

SAM Satellite

CBERS is a cooperative program between CAST (Chinese Academy of Space Technology) of the People's Republic of China, and INPE (Instituto de Pesquisas Espaciais) of Brazil (government agreement of both countries for the development and operation of two satellites). The program was signed in July 1988 to establish a complete remote sensing system (space and ground segment) to supply both countries with multispectral remotely sensed imagery.
In Nov. 2002, the governments of China and Brazil decided to expand the initial agreement by including another two satellites of the same kind, CBERS-3 and 4, as the second generation of the Sino-Brazilian cooperation effort. The planned cooperative CBERS-3&4 program of CAST and INPE employs enhanced versions of spacecraft and instruments. The specification of the project was agreed upon and closed in July 2004.

DCS (Data Collection System)
MUXCAM (Multispectral Camera)
PANMUX (... read more

Launch date:

Gaofen-2 is a follow-on mission of the Gaofen-1technology demonstration mission, a series of high-resolution optical Earth observation satellites of CNSA (China National Space Administration), Beijing, China. GF-2 is part of the CHEOS (China High Resolution Earth Observation System) family.
The mission goal of GF-2 to implement sub-meter level, high geographical accuracy Earth surface imaging, promoting application of CHEOS satellites and its social and economic benefits, meanwhile to make breakthrough in key technologies like fast roll and high stable attitude control, long focal length large f-number, lightweight camera design and long life bus design, enhancing China's civilian imaging satellite abilities and reliability.

Instrument: PMC-2 (PAN and Multispectral Camera Suite-2)
- 2 barrel-mounted panchromatic cameras
- 2 MS (Multispectral) cameras
- swath width: 23km for each camera / combined swath width: 45.3km

Launch date:

SPOT-7 is a high-resolution wide-swath imaging spacecraft built and operated by Airbus Defence and Space taking over the majority of Spot Image after the government support of the SPOT program was terminated. SPOT-6 – launched in 2012 – and SPOT-7 are identical spacecraft, based on the AstroSat-250 satellite bus and use the NAOMI (New AstroSat Optical Modular Instrument) payload to acquire optical imagery to ensure the continuity of SPOT data, building on experience gained through previous missions, particularly SPOT-5 that launched in 2002.
The SPOT-7 spacecraft is built for a ten-year mission featuring two NAOMI cameras to cover a 60-Kilometer ground swath, 120km using single-pass mosaic imaging. Overall, the satellite can achieve a resolution of two meters in panchromatic and eight meters in multispectral mode covering the visible and near-infrared spectral bands.

Instrument: 2x NAOMI (New AstroSat Optical Modular Instrument)
- 60km swath width... read more

Launch date:

Launched in June 2014 with an expected life-time of more than 7 years, Deimos-2 is an agile, high resolution satellite that became the only European fully-private satellite capable of providing sub-metric multispectral imagery. From a 620-km ascending sun-sync orbit, it has a 12/24-km swath (depending on the imaging mode), stereo-par capability and ±45º off-nadir tilting capacity. Its multispectral camera has a panchromatic and 4 spectral bands (R,G,B,NIR), at 10 bits. This allows Deimos-2 to provide 75-cm pan-sharpened imagery.

Deimos-2 was designed to provide a cost-effective and highly responsive service to cope with the increasing need of fast access to sub-metric imagery. As evidence of this, it provides near-real time image tasking, downloading, processing and delivery to the end user. It has a collection capacity of more than 150,000 km2/day with a two-day average revisit time worldwide. The whole Deimos-2 ground segment has been completely developed in-house by... read more

Launch date:

ALOS-2 (Advanced Land Observation Satellite 2) is the follow-on JAXA L-SAR satellite mission of ALOS (Daichi) approved by the Japanese government in late 2008. The overall objective is to provide data continuity to be used for cartography, regional observation, disaster monitoring, and environmental monitoring.
The post-ALOS program of JAXA has the goal to continue the ALOS (nicknamed Daichi) data utilization - consisting of ALOS-2 (SAR satellite) and ALOS-3 (optical satellite) in accordance with Japan's new space program.

The state-of-the-art L-band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) aboard ALOS-2, which is an active microwave radar using the 1.2 GHz frequency range, which, in responding to society's needs, has enhanced performance. The SAR is capable of observing day and night, and in all weather conditions.

ALOS-2 has a spotlight mode (1 to 3 m) and a high resolution mode (3 to 10 m). It allows comprehensive monitoring of disasters... read more

Launch date:

Sentinel-1 is a two satellite constellation with the prime objectives of land and ocean monitoring. The goal of the mission is to provide C-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data continuity following the retirement of ERS-2 and the end of the Envisat mission.
To accomplish this the satellites carry a C-SAR sensor, which offers medium and high resolution imaging in all weather conditiions. The C-SAR is capable of obtaining night imagery and detecting small movement on the ground, which makes it useful for land and sea monitoring.
Sentinel-1 will work in a pre-programmed operation mode to avoid conflicts and to produce a consistent long-term data archive built for applications based on long time series.
The mission benefits numerous services. For example, services that relate to the monitoring of Arctic sea-ice extent, routine sea-ice mapping, surveillance of the marine environment, including oil-spill monitoring and ship detection for maritime security, monitoring... read more

Launch date:

The FY-3 series of CMA/NSMC (China Meteorological Administration/National Satellite Meteorological Center) represents the second generation of Chinese polar-orbiting meteorological satellites (follow-on of FY-1 series). The FY-3 series represents a cooperative program between CMA and CNSA (China National Space Administration); it was initially approved in 1998 and entered full-scale development in 1999. Key aspects of the FY-3 satellite series include collecting atmospheric data for intermediate- and long-term weather forecasting and global climate research.
The FY-3 series satellites monitor large-scale meteorological disasters, weather-induced secondary natural hazards and environment changes, and provides geophysical parameters for scientific research in climate change and its variability, climate diagnosis, and predictions. The FY-3 series renders global and regional meteorological information for aviation, ocean navigation, agriculture, forestry, marine activities,... read more

Launch date:

KOMPSAT-5 is an earth observation satellite equipped with Korea's first all-weather SAR.
The SAR mounted on KOMPSAT-5 emits microwaves to an object on the ground and synthesizes the reflected signal to produce an image. It enables ground observation even during nighttime and poor weather conditions.
As the SAR image can supplement the optical camera, which can record only the visible light spectrum, it is utilized in mutual supplementary operations with the high-resolution optical images of KOMPSAT-3 and KOMPSAT-3A.
KOMPSAT-5 observes the Korean Peninsula four times a day. The transmitted image data are used for public safety, natural disaster forecasts, land/resource management and environmental monitoring.

The primary mission of the KOMPSAT-5 system is to provide high resolution mode SAR images of 1 meter resolution, standard mode SAR images of 3 meter resolution and wide swath mode SAR images of 20 meter resolution with viewing conditions of the incidence... read more

Launch date:

Resurs-P1 is a Russian Earth observation satellite designed and developed at TsSKB Progress (Progress State Research and Production Space Center) in Samara, Russia. Roskosmos is funding the project (owner and operator of the spacecraft under the Russian Federal Space Program), the commercial data distributor is Sovzond JSC of Moscow. The spacecraft is operated by NTs OMZ (Research Center for Operational Earth Monitoring), Moscow, Russia.

Resurs-P1 is meant to replace the Resurs-DK, a previous generation spacecraft, which was launched on June 15, 2006.

Resurs-P carries the Geoton-L1 hyperspectral imaging payload as the main imaging instrumet. The optics have an apperture of 0.5 m and provides images with a ground resolution of 1.0 m in panchromatic mode and a resolution of 3 to 4 m in color mode. The Geoton-L1 system has 7 passbands and a 216-channel hyperspectral imager.

Aditionallym the KShMSA wide field multispectral camera is... read more

Launch date:

Gaofen-1 (gao fen = high resolution) is the first of a series of high-resolution optical Earth observation satellites of CNSA (China National Space Administration), Beijing, China. The civilian HDEOS (High-Definition Earth Observation Satellite) program was proposed in 2006, it received government approval and was initiated in 2010. China plans to launch six HDEOS spacecraft between 2013 and 2016. The major users of the observation data will be the Ministry of Land and Resources, Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the Ministry of Agriculture.
The GF-1 spacecraft was launched on April 26, 2013 on a CZ-2D (Long March -2D) vehicle from the JSLC (Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center) in northwest China.

PMC (PAN and Multispectral camera)
WFI (Wide Field Imager)

Launch date:


Hazard group

Terms in the same hazard group

Zircon - This is a contributing Drupal Theme
Design by WeebPal.