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Earth's most active volcanoes on satellite watch

20 October 2016

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As hundreds flee lava and ash spewed from Mexico's Colima volcano, its continuing eruption is being tracked not only by ground instruments but also from space. Starting last month, Colima is one of 22 active volcanoes worldwide being monitored by satellites.

The latest observations by Europe's Sentinels and the US Terra and Landsat satellites are being processed automatically for the rapid delivery of key parameters to geohazards researchers.

"Within the geohazards arena, this kind of systematic service is really something new," explains Fabrizio Pacini of Terradue, which operates the new service through ESA's online, cloud-based Geohazards Exploitation Platform, or GEP.

"Researchers already use Earth observation data, of course, but usually on an on-demand basis from a single sensor. We make use of a range of sensors to cover multiple sites on a continuing basis."

The service is based on automated processing chains developed by GEP research partners, running on the GEP itself, then made available through it.

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