Project Team: Andes Disasters Team
Team Location: NASA Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Amanda Weigel, Project Lead (University of Alabama in Huntsville)
Amberle Keith (Idaho State University)
Jonathan Rivas (Texas A&M University)
Dr. Jeff Luvall (NASA Global Climatology and Hydrology Center)
Eric Anderson (NASA SERVIR, Science and Technology Integration Lead)
Copahue is a stratovolcano located along the rim of the Caviahue Caldera near the Chile-Argentina border in the Andes Mountain Range, and is estimated to have been active for the last 2 million years. There are several small towns located in proximity of the volcano with the two largest being Banos Copahue and Caviahue, located 4-9 kilometers from the volcano. During its eruptive history, it has produced numerous lava flows, pyroclastic flows, ash deposits, and lahars. This isolated region has steep topography and little vegetation, rendering it poorly monitored. The need to model volcanic hazard risk has been reinforced by recent volcanic activity that intermittently released several ash plumes from December 2012 through May 2013. Ash emitted during these eruptions canceled hundreds of flights and forced the evacuations of thousands of people from their homes. Exposure to volcanic ash is currently the main threat for the surrounding populations as the volcano becomes more active. The goal of this project was to study Copahue and determine areas that have the highest potential of being affected in the event of an eruption. Remote sensing techniques were used to examine and identify volcanic activity and areas vulnerable to experiencing volcanic hazards including volcanic ash, sulfur dioxide gas, lava flow, pyroclastic density currents and lahars. Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper Plus (ETM+), Landsat 8 Operational Land Imager (OLI), Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) Advanced Land Imager (ALI), Terra Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER), Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), International Space Station SERVIR Environmental Research and Visualization System (ISERV) Pathfinder, and Aura Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) products were processed using ArcGIS and ENVI software and used to analyze volcanic hazards. These datasets were used to create a historic lava flow map of the Copahue volcano by identifying historic lava flows, tephra, and lahars both visually and spectrally. Additionally, a volcanic risk and hazard map for the surrounding area was created by modeling the possible extent of ash fallout, lahars, lava flow, and pyroclastic density currents (PDC) for future eruptions. These model results were then used to identify areas that should be prioritized for disaster relief and evacuation orders.