"Manam Volcano" by Jesse Allen/NASA Earth Observatory / Public Domain

Drones Are Being Sent Straight Into Volcanoes, For Life-Saving Science

Nov 2, 2020

By Clare Watson

With an estimated 300 active volcanoes on Earth, the challenge is how to monitor them all to send out early warnings before they erupt. Measuring volcanic gas emissions is also no easy task.

Now researchers have designed specially-adapted drones to help gather data from an active volcano in Papua New Guinea (PNG).

The drones could help local communities monitor nearby volcanoes and forecast future eruptions. Their measurements could also tell us more about the most inaccessible, highly active volcanoes on the planet and how volcanoes contribute to the global carbon cycle.

The Manam volcano is located on an island just 10 kilometres (6 miles) wide that sits off the northeast coast of PNG. The island is home to over 9,000 people and Manam Motu, as it’s known locally, is one of the most active volcanoes in the country. In 2004, a major eruption from Manam forced the entire island to evacuate to the mainland and devastated people’s crops and homes.

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