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Earthquakes and volcanoes from space: the APhoRISM project

Earthquakes and volcanoes from space: the APhoRISM project

Salvatore Stramondo, senior researcher at the  National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology - National Earthquake Center - Rome (Italy).

APhoRISM (Advanced Procedures for volcanic and Seismic Monitoring project), lead by INGV, is one of the winning proposals in the last call SPACE-Remote Sensing Methods of the 7th Framework Program GMES (Global Monitoring of the Environment and Security) of the European Commission.


The project APhoRISM (acronym for: Advanced PRocedures for volcanIc and Seismic Monitoring) is one of the most recent projects coordinated by the INGV. APhoRISM is a project of the Seventh Framework Programme for space activities of the European Commission; its purpose is the development of innovative methods in the field of seismic and volcanic monitoring.

The main project subject are satellite data, remote sensing data integrated with proximal measures, ground measurements, to provide innovative scientific outcomes. In particular, APhoRISM will improve estimates on the content of volcanic ash resulting from the occurrence of important eruptions that affect major European volcanoes, and concerning seismology, the measurement of the manifold surface effects produced by a seismic event, ranging from ground deformation to damage on infrastructures and buildings, taken into account also in the production of scenarios used for mitigation and management of seismic risk.

immagine_400_05In recent years, since the early 2000s, the role of observing Earth from space with the aim of natural hazards mitigation, has become increasingly relevant. The satellite data, the remote sensing data in general, allows users (researchers, scientists) to have a complete analysis of the effects of a disaster on the territory. The satellite data have two main characteristics: 1. It provides a synoptic view of what happens in a territory and 2. It measures surface effects occurring without direct interaction between instrument and observed object. This second factor is of extreme importance; the measurement of physical and chemical parameters or other characteristics, such as ground deformation, with no direct interaction but from hundreds of miles, is a highly relevant issue.

Why satellite data are used, and how, in the mitigation of natural hazards? Let's consider volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis.

In the case of volcanic eruptions, in pre-eruption phase, remote sensing data allow for the detection of movements on the volcanic structure due to the increased pressure in the magma chamber and the rise of magma in the volcanic conduit. During syneruptive phase, it helps to identify and measure the characteristics and properties of magma and the creation and updating of predictive scenarios regarding the most probable directions along which magma can move.

Regarding earthquakes, generally remote sensing data are used to measure the effects of earthquakes on the surface, like deformation, to measure interseismic movements that are in some ways the effects of slow surface deformations occurring for years and decades. With regard to tsunamis, remote sensing data allow for the evaluation of scenarios that give the opportunity to those who are in charge to realize and implement all actions for the mitigation of tsunami effects, to have impact wave scenarios along the coasts, on cities and infrastructures.


The aim of APhoRISM is to develop novel methods for the seismological and volcanological monitoring. Its outcomes will be serving the European Society.

Publication date 07/30/2013
Organizations INGV
Tag Physical Sciences and Engineering