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Volcanic Eruption in the Galapagos Islands: Observed 28-Centimetre Soil Displacement


On May 23, 2015, the highest volcano in the Galapagos Islands, Wolf Volcano, erupted for the first time in 33 years. Using satellite imagery and radar interferometry, our team tried to determine whether the soil had moved specifically due to this eruption.

On the left side, the Landsat 8 satellite image shows the volcano after the eruption (September 7, 2015). The image to the right corresponds to an interferogram created out of two Sentinel 1A radar images (May 3 and June 23, 2015). The coloured fringes, known as interferometric fringes, target the deformation that occurred on the Earth’s surface only a few weeks after the eruption. A displacement of approximately 2.8 centimetres between each colour cycle can be seen, giving a maximum displacement of about 28 cm.


Radar interferometry is a technique used to detect very tiny deformations and structural movements with centimetre and millimetre precision.

To learn more about radar interferometry:  Image Interpretation and processing/interferometry