Technology

This is how drones could take on this dangerous profession in the grip of volcanoes

Fiona D’Arcy has proposed in a crater in Hawaii, been lost in the clouds of a volcano in Iceland and survived the eruption of another in Costa Rica with her fellow volcanologists. In total he has visited 34 volcanoes And, although it is an exciting experience, there is great risk in explorations.

“We always know we need to get our data out there because anything can happen,” says D’Arcy, who is majoring in volcanic geochemistry at McGill University. Death is a possibility highly regarded in the profession. Some of the most infamous cases were those of three researchers who died on Mount Unzen (Japan) in 1991 and six experts who had a fatal fate in the 1993 Galeras eruption.



To reduce the risks facing volcanologists, D’Arcy wonders whether remote-controlled drones would make it possible to effectively collect samples. A study conducted by him and his team and published in the Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research attempts to Demonstrate whether unmanned aerial vehicles could be a solution.

One of the conclusions they’ve come to with the study is that atmospheric drones are capable of carrying out Fast and reliable measurement of carbon dioxide emissions, In tests conducted on the Poés volcano (Costa Rica), researchers lost three drones, but it is better to use drones than to kill people.

The tests were conducted in 2019, two years after the Poes eruption. To verify that the data was accurate, the researchers had to enter the crater and measure CO₂ manually. When comparing the results, they realized that the data was quite similar.: “When it’s ideal it will be a lot easier. We can take these samples without everyone going in and taking risks.”


Drones can help save the environment

The drone mimics the way scientists manually collect samples. At the push of a button, they would open the gas pump and feed One way valve in a small sampling bag, Upon exiting the crater, D’Arcy’s team attached the bag to a cavity-falling-ring spectrometer to measure CO₂ concentrations.

While drones won’t prevent volcanologists from descending into craters for other types of exploration, the technology could help volcanologists do so more often and reduce mortality in the profession.

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