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A European volcanological supersite in Iceland: a monitoring system and network for the future

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Volcanic prediction and monitoring

An EU project took an integrated approach to the prediction of volcanic hazards. The team developed new monitoring systems and methods plus innovative predictive algorithms, while establishing a new Icelandic data hub.

Climate Change and Environment

The eruption of an Icelandic volcano in April 2010 caused severe disruption to Europe's airspace on and off for several weeks. The eruption highlighted the importance of an integrated Earth system science for predicting the effects of eruptions. Funded by the EU, the FUTUREVOLC (A European volcanological supersite in Iceland: A monitoring system and network for the future) project reflected the need for a holistic approach to European volcanic hazard assessment. The group established an innovative volcano monitoring system, developed new methods for monitoring volcanic activity and improved scientific understanding of volcanic processes. The consortium took advantage of the six-month eruption of Iceland's Holuhraun volcano to test equipment and methods. The project also improved public information flow about volcanic hazards. The team developed the Icelandic Volcanoes data hub. The hub provides general information on volcanoes, plus monitoring from multiple data sets. Researchers produced a catalogue of Iceland's 32 volcanic systems, publicly accessible via the data hub. Investigators improved the communication of hazards by incorporating research results from the 2010 Icelandic volcano eruption, and other incidents, into operational activities. Activities included an aviation colour-coding system and new reporting protocols. Researchers tested and demonstrated the activities during project exercises, and in response to the 2014-2015 eruption. FUTUREVOLC installed new monitoring equipment around target volcanoes for magma tracking. The team also established Icelandic Volcanoes as a permanent geohazard supersite under an international framework. New algorithms helped analyse ambient seismic noise, revealing a 3D seismic velocity structure, and locations of earthquakes. The project's algorithms also helped calculate groundwater update of carbon dioxide from the Hekla volcano. Other algorithms helped with analysis of satellite data. The team installed a series of arrays for detecting and monitoring volcanic eruption plumes and other atmospheric phenomena. Other outcomes included development and testing of a system capable of quickly estimating eruption rates in explosive eruptions. Researchers created and successfully tested a system for automatically analysing ash fallout. FUTUREVOLC's improved understanding of volcano dynamics means improved predictions of the effects of future eruptions. European air traffic control will be able to act with greater certainty and less disruption.

Keywords

Volcanic hazards, monitoring systems, eruption, volcano, FUTUREVOLC

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