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cGPS and UAS Activities in Response to the 2018 Eruption of Sierra Negra Volcano, Galápagos Archipelago, Ecuador

  • Principal Investigator: Falk Amelung (University of Miami), Peter LaFemina (Penn State)
  • UNAVCO Engineer(s): Keith Williams, John Galetzka
  • Dates: August 2018
  • Location(s): Sierra Negra volcano, Isabella Island, Galapagos, Ecuador
  • Funding Source: NSF EAR Award Number 1838373

Written by John Galetzka
30 November 2018


The Sierra Negra volcano on Isabella Island in the Galápagos Archipelago erupted spectacularly in 2005 with lava fountains reaching more than 200 meters high, and a gas/ash plume reaching 15 km altitude. Various types of data collected before, during and after that eruption gave earth scientists a better understanding of volcanic processes, some of which are unique to the Galápagos. After years of slow uplift and weeks of increasing seismic activity, the Sierra Negra volcano erupted once again on June 26th, 2018.

A continuous GPS network was established on the highly active Sierra Negra volcano in 2002 to improve our understanding of the eruption cycle. In response to the June, 2018 eruption, NSF granted PIs funding to upgrade the network under the RAPID award Collaborative: Geodetic and Seismic Observations of Volcanic Unrest at Sierra Negra Volcano, Galapagos Islands. The award supported a visit in August by two UNAVCO field engineers, Keith Williams and John Galetzka, to troubleshoot existing continuous GPS stations that had been offline for the last several years; download standard and high-sample-rate GPS data, improve the radio links between stations within the caldera, the caldera rim repeater, and the internet hub 90 km away at Darwin Research Station on Santa Cruz Island; install a new continuous GPS station at Puerto Villamil on the south tip of Isabella Island; and conduct UAS structure-from-motion imaging of the unique trapdoor structure within the caldera with the assistance of Dr. Elodie Brothelande from the Carnegie Institution for Science and Dr. Lydie Gailer from the Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont Ferrand, France.

Related Links

Map Center:
Sierra Negra Volcano, Galapagos


Last modified: 2020-01-28  22:54:38  America/Denver