Volcano Ash detection with Sigma Space Micro Pulse Lidar

Sigma Space Corporation Micro Pulse LiDAR has been shipped to Japan to study the volcanic ash of the recent eruption of Shinmoe-dake. A volcanic plume began to rise from the crater on Mount Shinmoe-dake in the Kirishimna range on Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu, starting January 19th. A huge plume of gas and ash was causing damage up to 5 miles away from the eruption. Weathernews, one of the leading research and weather service companies in the world, asked for our Micro Pulse LiDAR to monitor the volcanic plume and its evolution.

The MPL has been used to observe Shinmoe-dake from an observation point located to the east of it (18 km), in order to monitor the movements of the ash cloud over the most populated area.

The picture shows our Micro Pulse LiDAR system setup at Tachibana Astronomical Observatory monitoring the Shinmoe-dake volcanic activity, March 2011. (Photo courtesy: Weathernews Inc., Japan)

“We used the Sigma Space LiDAR to measure the density to gather a better understanding of the plume profile and transport mechanisms said Lance Steele, meteorologist from the Weathernews Oklahoma Innovation Center, which works closely with the headquarters in Japan, to produce new and innovative disaster mitigation services for transportation industries worldwide.


The screen capture here shows the volcanic plume signal from the Shinmoe-dake taken with our instrument. The top graph is a signal versus range plot showing peaks from ash plumes located 17.5 km from the observation point. The profile shown has a range resolution of 30 meters and integration time of 30 seconds. The green trace is the co-polarized backscatter signal; the red trace is the cross-polarized backscatter signal. The two false color images show the time history of the signal over a one hour period. The co-polarized signal history (middle image) shows the evolution of the plume at 17-18 km range from the instrument. The cross-polarized component time history is shown at the bottom, and is useful for detection of irregular or non-spherical particles.

This screen capture is from a later time during the same volcanic observation. There is indication of irregular particle emission as shown by the presence of the cross-polarized component (red trace) in addition to the co-polarized component.                    


Sigma Space Corporation, May 24, 2011

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