Monitoring volcanic and ionospheric activity with accurate reference stations


Saba and St. Eustatius (‘Statia’) are volcanic islands in the Caribbean Netherlands (Dutch Carribean). Due to subduction of the North and South American Plates under the Caribbean Plate, this region has active volcanoes. The KNMI (Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut) uses the PolaRx5S and PolaRx5 GNSS receivers, seismometers and temperature sensors to monitor the activity of volcanoes Mt. Scenery on Saba and The Quill on St. Eustatius.

The ionospheric monitoring capabilities of PolaRx5S receivers are also used to collect measurements for space weather research. These receivers located on Saba and Statia are part of a vast space weather monitoring network together with PolaRx5S receivers from INGV (Italian National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology), which monitor ionospheric scintillations in regions of heightened solar activity such as around the equator and at the poles. 

GNSS observations are well suited to help monitoring active volcanoes.

Elske de Zeeuw - van Dalfsen
Scientist at R&D Dept. Seismology and Acoustics, KNMI

Images above from left to right show the following: 

  1. PolaNT Choke Ring B3/E6 antenna at St. Eustatius, with the Quill volcano in the background.
  2. Installation of a GNSS monument in volcanic bedrock.
  3. GNSS time series from a monitoring site on Saba.

The Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (in Dutch KNMI or Koninklijk Nederlands Meteorologisch Instituut) is the Dutch national weather service, which has its headquarters in De Bilt, in the province of Utrecht, The Netherlands. The primary tasks of KNMI are weather forecasting and monitoring of weather, climate, air quality and seismic activity. KNMI is also the national research and information centre for meteorology, climate, air quality and seismology.

Video credit KNMI