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Geographers at the University of Sheffield have developed novel techniques for monitoring volcanic gases, providing vital data for diagnosing activity and eruption forecasting. The research has impacted volcano monitoring agencies across the globe, expediting their purpose to enhance the safety of those living and working near volcanoes.



Enhanced monitoring capacity and eruption forecasting has the potential to benefit citizens living in the vicinity of volcanoes worldwide.



Research led by a geographers at the University of Sheffield has developed technologically innovative and low-cost UV volcano sensing techniques, suitable for widespread dissemination in the global south.

The team  pioneered the world’s first smartphone sensor-based UV camera, by developing a novel technique for removing the UV absorbing layers from the surface of detector units.



The team have trained over 50 personnel from monitoring agencies in countries including Italy, Papua New Guinea, Ecuador, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua, in the use of these technologies, including free distribution of the operating software and hardware protocols. Since 2013, more than 100 spectrometer and camera units have been operated on almost every degassing volcano on the planet, in more than 30 countries on every continent, resulting in over 20,000 survey days of data.

Research has enhanced volcano monitoring capacity through improved portability, user friendly operability, data accuracy and spatio-temporal resolution and reduced cost. This has enhanced understanding and forecasting which directly impacts people living nearby by reducing volcanic risks to livelihoods and health, including respiratory issues and impact injury.

The UV smartphone sensors have been identified by NASA as a technology suitable for measurement of water in Lunar rocks. This data is key to advancing our grasp of the evolution of the planets and moons of the solar system. Collaboratively the Sheffield team and NASA have created a novel sensor for lunar rover deployment.


More information 

Institution: University of Sheffield

Researchers: Dr Andrew McGonigle, Dr Tom Pering, Dr Robert Bryant


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How to cite

Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Transformative Gas Sensing Technology in Volcano Monitoring. Available at https://rgs.rgs/transformativegas  Last accessed on: <date>