The AVTIS imager is a portable mm-wave instrument
designed to measure how a volcano changes size, shape and
temperature. Some volcanoes can change very quickly with great
spines of rock appearing overnight and new mountains being
built in the space of a few months!
Watching to see how a volcano changes might
seem like a simple thing to do, but most volcanoes are usually
covered in cloud making it really difficult to see what is
happening. Sometimes months can go by without a good view.
Even when the weather is clear gas and smoke obscure the most
active parts of the volcano in exactly the places that scientists
need to look if they are going to try and tell what is going
to happen next.
AVTIS (which stands for All-weather Volcano
Topography Imaging Sensor) was built to look at the volcanic
lava dome on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Since mm-waves
pass right through cloud, gas and smoke, AVTIS can see what
is happening all of the time. This is really important if
you are trying to predict when the volcano might explode.
The idea with AVTIS is to measure exactly where activity is
greatest on the lava dome surface and help predict where new
explosions might happen. To learn more about the volcano on
Montserrat and how AVTIS works follow the links on the right.