Evaluating the state-of-the-art in remote volcanic eruption characterization Part I: Raikoke volcano, Kuril Islands

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Raikoke, a small, unmonitored volcano in the Kuril Islands, erupted in June 2019. We integrate data from satellites (including Sentinel-2, TROPOMI, MODIS, Himawari-8), the International Monitoring System (IMS) infrasound network, and global lightning detection network (GLD360) with information from local authorities and social media to retrospectively characterize the eruptive sequence and improve understanding of the pre-, syn- and post- eruptive behavior. We observe six infrasound pulses beginning on 21 June at 17:49:55 UTC as well as the main Plinian phase on 21 June at 22:29 UTC. Each pulse is tracked in space and time using lightning and satellite imagery as the plumes drift eastward. Post-eruption visible satellite imagery shows expansion of the island's surface area, an increase in crater size, and a possibly-linked algal bloom south of the island. We use thermal satellite imagery and plume modeling to estimate plume height at 10–12 km asl and 1.5–2 × 106 kg/s mass eruption rate. Remote infrasound data provide insight into syn-eruptive changes in eruption intensity. Our analysis illustrates the value of interdisciplinary analyses of remote data to illuminate eruptive processes. However, our inability to identify deformation, pre-eruptive outgassing, and thermal signals, which may reflect the relatively short duration (~12 h) of the eruption and minimal land area around the volcano and/or the character of closed-system eruptions, highlights current limitations in the application of remote sensing for eruption detection and characterization.

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research