DCO ABOVE Expedition: Updates from the Field

DCO ABOVE (Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) is the second part of a DCO-funded project to explore volcanic emissions in Papua New Guinea using cutting-edge drone technologies.

DCO ABOVE (Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) is the second part of a DCO-funded project to explore volcanic emissions in Papua New Guinea using cutting-edge drone technologies (read more about part one of the project here). Led by Emma Liu of the University of Cambridge, UK, the expedition will see an international team of scientists collaborating with local volcano observatories to investigate these strongly degassing volcanoes. 

The team will be in the field throughout May and into early June.

Follow the team’s progress on the DCO Twitter account (@deepcarb), or check back here for blog posts from the field. 


19 April 2019: DCO ABOVE prepares for take-off!

In less than three weeks, DCO teams from across the world will be on their way to Papua New Guinea for the start of the ABOVE (Aerial-based Observations of Volcanic Emissions) expedition. ABOVE seeks to use recently developed drone technology to explore new ways to sample volcanic gases, and learn more about the enigmatic carbon emissions from the Papua New Guinea volcanic arc. Through a global collaborative effort, ABOVE will fill some of the last remaining gaps in our understanding of the critical role of volcanoes in the deep Earth carbon cycle.

map of ABOVE team

Over the last few months the ABOVE teams have been busy developing new sensor systems and sampling devices, as well as advanced drone platforms to fly the instruments further, higher, and for longer. As we enter the countdown to departure day, everyone is busy in the final stages of field testing ironing out any remaining problems whilst safely back in home base. Meanwhile, our satellite team has been keeping us all up to date with what is going on at Manam, one of our target volcanoes. 

SO2 emissions in PNG
TROPOMI satellite images showing the on-going sulphur dioxide emissions from Manam.

ABOVE is growing! We welcome Zach Voss (Retroscope Media) and Matthew Wordell (Matthew Wordell Photography) to the ABOVE expedition team. This intrepid media duo will be documenting every second of the trip to create a stunning video documentary and photographic exhibition to bring the expedition to life for a much wider audience. Both will be shown for the first time at Deep Carbon 2019: Launching the Next Decade of Deep Carbon Science in Washington in October 2019, before making the journey across the Atlantic to the Sedgwick Museum, Cambridge, to begin a year-long UK exhibition tour.

ABOVE planning meeting
ABOVE held a successful planning meeting in Cambridge in January 2019. Hosted in the stunning Queen’s College, this meeting gave the teams a chance to meet (some for the first time) and to start making detailed plans for both the fieldwork and subsequent research. 

After successfully leveraging additional Impact Acceleration funding from the UK Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF), Emma Liu and Kieran Wood from the ABOVE team were out in Papua New Guinea at the end of February to deliver a training workshop in drone operations at the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory (RVO). The GCRF project “Building capacity through knowledge exchange: Drone-based strategies for volcano monitoring” enables the provision of both equipment and training for the RVO to begin integrating aerial observations and gas measurements into their regular monitoring activities and volcanic crisis response. Importantly, this training means that RVO scientists will be actively participating in data collection during the ABOVE expedition in May 2019. In addition to Liu and Wood, the team involved in this impact acceleration project include Brendan McCormick Kilbride, Alessandro Aiuppa, Tom Richardson, and Marie Edmonds.

ABOVE training workshop

The GCRF training workshop involved both theory classes and practical sessions.

Training part 2

The drone training was hosted at Tavurvur crater, Rabaul.

As always, there will be many ways to check out the progress of the ABOVE expedition whilst the team is out in the field. Emma Liu will again be taking over the DCO Twitter account @deepcarb, as well as sending regular updates to DCO’s Engagement Team to be included on deepcarbon.net. In addition to the ABOVE Instagram account (dco_above), Emma will also be a guest grammer on the AGU Instagram account from 28 May to 1 June.

Further Reading

Bagana volcano
DCO Research Volcanic Rocks Will Do, When Studying Biggest Carbon Emitters

Researchers estimated the carbon emissions from the 91 most actively degassing volcanoes on Earth.…

DCO Research Remote Gas Monitoring Gives Warning Before Wet Eruptions

DCO researchers used MultiGAS stations and flying drones to monitor gas emissions at Poás volcano…

degassing at faults
DCO Research Spreading Faults Create New Deep Carbon Leaks

Researchers compiled and digitized records of global carbon dioxide leaks to show that carbon…

DCO Highlights Field Report: Investigating the Origins of Carbon Degassing in Romania

On 3 September 2018, seven researchers from four countries set off from Cluj-Napoca, Romania for a…

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