Geologists on the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory had their cell phones buzzing this previous week with automated alert messages, notifying them that there was one thing new and scorching on the Island of Hawaii. Though the inner alert system is supposed to detect new volcanic exercise, no eruption was occurring.
As a substitute, the alert was triggered by a picture of the current giant brush fireplace on the west aspect of Maunakea. The picture that captured this exercise doesn’t simply cowl the Island of Hawaii — it encompasses a lot of the Pacific area.
What may probably have such a broad view of the Earth? The reply: a geostationary satellite tv for pc, orbiting 22,000 miles (35,000 km) above Earth’s floor.
The picture originated from a Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite tv for pc (GOES-17), operated by the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. GOES-17, launched in 2018, is a comparatively new version in a sequence of GOES satellites that date again to 1975, when GOES-1 launched.
Many imaging satellites are polar orbiting, staying nearer to Earth’s floor in a low orbit. They picture the Earth such as you would possibly mow a garden — in slim, sequential strips because the satellite tv for pc traverses from pole to pole.
Geostationary satellites like GOES, nonetheless, have orbits that hover over a single spot on the Earth. This requires being a lot farther from Earth than polar orbits, nevertheless it has the profit that the satellite tv for pc can “see” the complete aspect of the planet in a single view.
America makes use of two GOES satellites to cowl the entire nation. GOES-16 (additionally referred to as GOES-East) hovers over longitude 75° West (close to the east coast), viewing the mainland and far of the Atlantic Ocean. GOES-17 (GOES-West) is over longitude 137° West (near midway between Hawaii and the mainland) and views the western U.S. and far of the Pacific Ocean.
The first mission of GOES satellites isn’t to detect volcanic exercise or forest fires, however to maintain a relentless watch over the climate. The broad view permits scientists to trace climate methods as they evolve and migrate, offering crucial information for forecasts.
Climate monitoring makes use of wavelengths of seen and infrared gentle to characterize the ambiance. Thankfully, the satellite tv for pc infrared channels can even decide up scorching thermal indicators on the bottom, corresponding to these from fires and eruptions.
The geostationary nature of GOES-17 permits it to picture areas quickly — each 5–quarter-hour — offering a well timed view of what’s occurring on this aspect of the planet. The satellite tv for pc additionally has a mode to picture smaller areas of Earth’s floor at even increased charges (each 30 seconds), by request in particular circumstances, corresponding to throughout a volcanic eruption or giant fires. Polar-orbiting satellites, then again, would possibly solely cowl a given spot on the Earth twice a day.
The downside of the distant geostationary orbit of GOES, nonetheless, is that the decision of the pictures is usually decrease than that of polar-orbiting satellites. The infrared channels on GOES-17 have a decision of two km (1.2 miles), an enchancment over its predecessor, GOES-15, which had a decision of 4 km (2.5 miles).
The decrease decision implies that GOES pictures aren’t satisfactory to map out the exact define of a lava movement, or find the precise location of a vent. Nonetheless, the excessive picture frequency supplied by GOES is right for detecting the onset of recent volcanic exercise on the floor, whereas giving a normal thought of the place that exercise is positioned (for instance, a volcano’s summit area, or decrease rift zone).
Consider GOES as a warning bell to mobilize the forces, including to the suite of different monitoring instruments utilized by volcano observatories to detect eruptions. Whereas seismic and ground-deformation networks are delicate to modifications under the floor, the GOES satellite tv for pc is a software for recognizing new lava reaching the floor.
The GOES satellite tv for pc acts as a high-tech sentinel, sustaining an unwavering look ahead to eruptive exercise, not solely in Hawaii, however throughout the U.S.
GOES pictures and uncooked information are all publicly obtainable on-line, simply minutes after acquisition. One on-line interface is supplied by NOAA: https://www.star.nesdis.noaa.gov/GOES/index.php
HVO continues to be refining its alarming and use of GOES information, with the hope that it’s going to assist in the following eruption onset. With a historical past that “goes” again to 1975, it’s probably that GOES satellites will stay on watch responsibility for a few years to return.
Kilauea will not be erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert stage is at ADVISORY (https://www.usgs.gov/natural-hazards/volcano-hazards/about-alert-levels). Kilauea updates are issued weekly.
No floor exercise at Kilauea Volcano has been noticed by discipline crews or webcam pictures since Might 23. Seismicity has slowly elevated in current weeks within the summit area, with continued gradual summit inflation over the previous a number of months and no deflation-inflation cycles over the previous week. Sulfur dioxide emission charges stay barely elevated. It’s doable that the Halema‘uma‘u vent may resume eruption or that Kilauea is getting into an extended interval of quiescence previous to the following eruption. For extra data on present monitoring of Kilauea, see https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/Kilauea/monitoring.
Mauna Loa will not be erupting and stays at Volcano Alert Degree ADVISORY. This alert stage doesn’t imply that an eruption is imminent or that development to an eruption from the present stage of unrest is for certain. Mauna Loa updates are issued weekly.
This previous week, about 39 small-magnitude earthquakes had been recorded under Mauna Loa. World Positioning System measurements present no main deformation within the summit area over the previous week. Gasoline concentrations and fumarole temperatures at each the summit and at Sulphur Cone on the Southwest Rift Zone stay steady. Webcams present no modifications to the panorama. For extra data on present monitoring of Mauna Loa, see: https://www.usgs.gov/volcanoes/mauna-loa/monitoring.
There have been 3 occasions with 3 or extra felt studies within the Hawaiian Islands in the course of the previous week. a M2.7 earthquake 2 km (1 mi) W of Honaunau-Napoopoo at 8 km (5 mi) depth on July 31 at 8:12 p.m. HST, a M2.7 earthquake 10 km (6 mi) SSE of Pa‘auilo at 8 km (5 mi) depth on July 30 at 2:06 a.m. HST, and a M3.2 earthquake 14 km (8 mi) S of Fern Forest at 6 km (3 mi) depth occurred on July 29 at 10:48 p.m. HST.
HVO continues to carefully monitor each Kilauea and Mauna Loa for any indicators of elevated exercise.
Electronic mail inquiries to askHVO@usgs.gov.