Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions (ABOVE) is an international collaborative project that is changing the way we sample volcanic gas emissions. Harnessing recent advances in drone technology, the aim is to fill gaps in our understanding of global volcanic carbon emissions by acquiring aerial measurements of gas composition directly from within previously inaccessible volcanic plumes. This project transcends traditional discipline boundaries, bringing together scientists, aerospace engineers and pilots to target some of the world’s most inaccessible but strongly degassing volcanoes. In May 2019, a team of 30 researchers undertook an ambitious field deployment in Papua New Guinea. The three-week expedition focused on two volcanoes – Tavurvur, part of the Rabaul volcanic complex, and Manam – both amongst the most prodigious emitters of sulphur dioxide on Earth, and yet lacking any measurements of how much they emit to the atmosphere.
Photographer Matthew Wordell accompanied the science team to document a ‘behind the scenes’ perspective of what it was like to conduct field research in such a remote and challenging place. Based in Boise, Idaho, his field work photography has afforded a unique opportunity to join international campaigns and offer a glimpse into the challenges, successes, and experiences of working in remote locations.
“Fieldwork uniquely transcends cultural and spatial boundaries while building personal connections that last a lifetime.” Emma Liu, Project Lead.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation funded ABOVE as part of the Deep Carbon Observatory, and additional support from the L’Oreal-UNESCO Ambassador Fund made this gallery possible.