loading page

Statistical analysis of the two-decade ASTER archive: Quantitative retrievals of volcanic thermal and gas emissions
  • Tyler Leggett,
  • Michael Ramsey,
  • Claudia Corradino
Tyler Leggett
University of Pittsburgh

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

Author Profile
Michael Ramsey
University of Pittsburgh
Author Profile
Claudia Corradino
INGV - National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology
Author Profile


Detailed analysis of volcanic thermal and gas emissions over time can constrain subsurface processes throughout the pre- and post-eruption phases. Time series analyses are commonly applied to high temporal datasets like the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS); however, this is the first study using the entire Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) twenty-plus year archive. The ASTER archive presents a unique opportunity to quantify volcanic precursors and processes. The spatial, spectral, and radiometric resolution of its thermal infrared (TIR) subsystem allows detection of very low-magnitude surface temperature anomalies and passively emitted small gas plumes. We developed a new statistical algorithm to automatically detect these subtle anomalies and applied it to five recently active volcanoes with well-documented eruptions: Taal (Philippians), Popocat├ępetl (Mexico), Mt. Etna (Italy), Fuego (Guatemala), and Kluichevskoi (Russia). More than 3,300 ASTER level-1 terrain corrected (L1T), registered, radiance-at-sensor images were downloaded from the NASA EARTHDATA website. These were screened for significant summit cloud coverage, which removed approximately 25% of scenes. The remaining were converted to brightness temperature and a median background temperature per scene was determined from an annulus around the active crater to produce the temperature above background. The algorithm creates a rejection criterion value defined by the median absolute deviation to identify the thermal anomalies. The size and intensity of these anomalies as well as the detection, composition, emission rate of small plumes are retrieved one year prior to the known eruptions for each volcano to identify all precursory signals. The results of this study have the dual purpose of constraining volcanological processes that lead to eruptions as well as providing training data for machine learning modeling. Machine learning is an effective and well-established technique that provides rapid classification of volcanic activity such as thermal anomalies that exceed a certain size and/or intensity. The comparison of these two approaches is documented in a companion abstract in this session.