Discovery Channel films UH Hilo researchers mapping lava flow in Puna

The Discovery Channel’s video includes an excellent explanation of how the lava mapping is done from the UAV flights in the field to the data analysis and mosaic creation done at the UH Hilo Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Laboratory.

By Susan Enright.

Research team of five people in respirators walk alongside an active lava flow.
A snapshot from Discovery Chanel video: UH Hilo researchers walk out to a clearing near the active lava flow in Puna to launch an unmanned aerial vehicle. The Swinglet CAM by Sensefly is fitted with a high resolution camera for collecting still imagery. The captured images are later merged into a large mosaic, creating a high resolution map for use by Civil Defense emergency planners. UPDATE: Video is no longer available.)
Research team stands for photo in front of an advancing active lava flow. Lots of steam and smoke. Red glowing lava can be seen in some spots of the flow.
Research Team on a previous mapping trip: (l-r) Matt Patrick and Frank Trusdell, geologists at the U.S. Geological Survey Hawaiian Volcano Observatory; Asia Addlesberger, geographic information systems specialist with the County of Hawai‘i; Tim Orr, head geologist at HVO; and UH Hilo researchers Ryan Perroy, assistant professor of geography and environmental science; Nicolas Turner, cyber computer programming analyst; and Jonathan Price, associate professor of geography, Oct. 22, 2014. That’s the active flow directly behind the group.

Reporters from Canada’s Discovery channel spent a day with researchers from the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo to film the scientists’ work on mapping the lava flow in Puna. The UH Hilo research team is using an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), a Swinglet CAM by Sensefly, fitted with a high resolution camera for collecting still imagery. The captured images are later merged into a large mosaic, creating a high resolution map for use by Civil Defense emergency planners.

Aerial of lava flow moving through green areas and over road. This tile is used as part of the mosaic.
Excerpt of a mosaic.

The UH Hilo flight team includes Ryan Perroy, assistant professor of geography and environmental science; Nicolas Turner, cyber computer programming analyst; and Arthur Cunningham, consultant for aeronautical science.

The Discovery Channel’s video includes an excellent explanation of how the mapping is done from the UAV flights in the field to the data analysis and mosaic creation done at the UH Hilo Spatial Data Analysis and Visualization Laboratory.

“The UAV flies about 150 meters high in a grid pattern, kind of like a lawn mower,” explains the narrator in the video about the technique used to capture the images. “(In the lab) Ryan loads the photos into a software program that stitches them together into one big topographical map.”

Perroy explains, “The map is called an orthomosaic, and with the ground control information, which is incorporated into that, you get a very beautiful and very interesting and highly detailed large photo of the mission area.”

Watch the video.

 

About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.