Shiveluch volcano, Kamchatka Krai, Russia — Contains modified Copernicus Sentinel data [2019], processed by Pierre Markuse

Active Volcanoes as Seen from Space

How to identify and analyze potentially active volcanoes with satellite imagery?

Sabina Dolenc
Feb 28 · 6 min read

Detecting Danger with Satellite Imagery

Erta Ale Volcano, Ethiopia acquired by the TIRS instrument aboard Landsat 8 on January 26, 2017 (thermal infrared visualization) — left. Fuego Volcano, Guatemala acquired with Sentinel-2 on January 20, 2019 (true color with slight infrared mix and highlights) — right. See the latter in full resolution on the Sentinel Hub Flickr account.
Sentinel-1 image of the Mount Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia acquired on November 20, 2017. See it in full resolution.

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Etna volcano in Italy as seen on Sentinel-2 (true color) and Sentinel-5P (SO2 — Sulphur Dioxide) on December 24, 2018. With a help of the comparison tool in EO Browser the source of the traces of SO2 emissions is clearly visible coming from the volcano after the eruption.

Visualization Options for Inspecting Volcanoes

Kilauea volcano, Hawaii (Sentinel-2 images, acquired on June 7, 2018) — Inspect it in EO Browser with False color visualization, including bands B12, B11, and B4 (left), or with the custom combination of bands B12, B11, and B8 (right).
Piton de la Fournaise volcano, on the eastern side of Réunion island in the Indian Ocean as seen on the Sentinel-2 image acquired on May 7, 2018, processed by Pierre Markuse. Check his Flickr account for more astonishing satellite imagery!

New Use-Case on Sentinel Hub Educational Page

A combination of different bands exposing lava flow inspired us to illustrate Etna’s eruption.
Image of Etna, acquired with Sentinel-2 on March 19, 2017. In a composite of bands B12, B11 and B04 (right), we can easily distinguish snow from smoke, and hot lava flow. It appears red and yellow due to high values in B12 (red color) and in B11 (green color). However, in nature lava would be dark as seen in true color image (left). See our Jupyter Notebook for more details!

Volcanoes Theme in EO Browser

Select a desired theme in EO Browser with the drop-down menu on the left.
Etna, Italy (Sentinel-2 images acquired on December 26, 2018) — Different visualization options clearly indicate the hot spots and lava flow, which can’t be spotted with True color visualization.
return [
    B04 * 2.5 + Math.max(0, B12 - 0.1),
    B03 * 2.5 + Math.max(0, B11 - 0.1),
    B02 * 2.5
Mount Yasur on Tanna Island, Vanuatu (Sentinel-2 images acquired on December 2, 2018) — Images including True color, True color with lava flow exposure and False color (urban) visualizations.

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Sabina Dolenc

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Sentinel Hub Blog

Stories from the next generation satellite imagery platform