VOLCANIC ENVIRONMENTS MONITORING BY DRONES MUD VOLCANO CASE STUDY
Keywords: Mud volcanoes, Le Salinelle, RPAS, UAV, thermal map, drone
Abstract. Volcanic activity has often affected human life both at large and at small scale. For example, the 2010 Eyjafjallajokull eruption caused severe economic damage at continental scale due to its strong effect on air traffic. At a local scale, ash fall and lava flow emission can cause harm and disruption. Understanding precursory signals to volcanic eruptions is still an open and tricky challenge: seismic tremor and gas emissions, for example, are related to upcoming eruptive activity but the mechanisms are not yet completely understood. Furthermore, information related to gases emission mostly comes from the summit crater area of a volcano, which is usually hard to investigate with required accuracy.
Although many regulation problems are still on the discussion table, an increasing interest in the application of cutting-edge technology like unmanned flying systems is growing up.
In this sense, INGV (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia) started to investigate the possibility to use unmanned air vehicles for volcanic environment application already in 2004. A flight both in visual- and radio-controlled mode was carried out on Stromboli volcano as feasibility test. In this work we present the preliminary results of a test performed by INGV in collaboration with the University of Bologna (aerospace division) by using a multi-rotor aircraft in a hexacopter configuration. Thermal camera observations and flying tests have been realised over a mud volcano located on its SW flank of Mt. Etna and whose activity proved to be related to early stages of magma accumulation within the volcano.