Laser scanner models volcanic activity on the Caribbean Island of Montserrat

Nottingham, UK, 20 June 2007 – 3D Laser Mapping, the UK based specialists in laser measurement technology and software, has supplied a state of the art survey system to monitor volcanic activity on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Purchased by the British Geological Survey the Riegl Laser Profile Measuring system (LPM-2K) has been used at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory to create a detailed 3D terrain model of the Soufrière Hills volcano and to capture subsequent survey measurements for comparison against the baseline. The Riegl LPM-2K, supplied by 3D Laser Mapping, provides a safe yet robust solution for the detection of both long and short-term ground movements.

The Soufrière Hills volcano on the Caribbean island of Montserrat began to erupt in 1995, after 400 years of dormancy. The main hazards faced by the remaining islanders are pyroclastic flows – superheated rock avalanches that can travel at speeds of over 70 miles per hour, however the volcano also generates lava eruptions at the surface, falls of ash up to 15cm deep across the island, landslides and earthquakes. By measuring and monitoring changes in the profile of the volcano, using the Riegl LPM-2K, scientists at the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) can detect long-term ground movement and short-term rapid movements that can act as precursors to failures in the flanks of the volcano or dome.

“The Riegl LPM-2K long range scanner has enabled us to create an accurate 3D terrain model of the volcanic area and provide continuous measurements of the profile without venturing onto the unstable slopes,” said Lee Jones a Geological Engineer for the British Geological Survey and one of the team of scientists based at the MVO. “Laser scanning is obviously therefore far safer than traditional surveying techniques.” He continued, “The volcanic dome changes rapidly, extruding lava at a rate of 4-10 cubic metres per second, therefore the ability to collect thousands of millimetre accurate measurements per day is fundamental to our work on the island.”

The Riegl LPM-2K is specifically designed for the automatic and manual collection of surface profile measurements at ranges up to 2.5 kilometres. Combined with a Global Positioning System (GPS) to geographically reference survey measurements the unit can record up to 4 readings per second with a resolution of 10mm and a typical accuracy of 50mm. The unit is integrated in a robust, dust and splash-water proof housing and is therefore well suited to the harsh volcanic environment.

3D Laser Mapping is a specialist in laser scanning solutions, the Riegl Premier Distributor for the UK, Ireland and sub-Saharan Africa and the leading distributor of TerraScan software. 3D Laser Mapping integrates laser scanner hardware systems with their own software and peripherals to create robust solutions for sectors such as mapping, mining and manufacturing.

Enquiries to Dr Graham Hunter, 3D Laser Mapping Ltd, Email Contact
tel: +44 (0) 870 442 9400,

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