Monitoring Volcanic Eruptions with a Wireless Sensor Network

This paper describes our experiences using a wireless sensor network to monitor volcanic eruptions with low-frequency acoustic sensors. We developed a wireless sensor array and deployed it in July 2004 at Volcan Tungurahua, an active volcano in central Ecuador. The network collected infrasonic (low-frequency acoustic) signals at 102 Hz, transmitting data over a 9 km wireless link to a remote base station. During the deployment, we collected over 54 hours of continuous data which included at least 9 large explosions. Nodes were time-synchronized using a separate GPS receiver, and our data was later correlated with that acquired at a nearby wired sensor array. In addition to continuous sampling, we have developed a distributed event detector that automatically triggers data transmission when a well-correlated signal is received by multiple nodes. We evaluate this approach in terms of reduced energy and bandwidth usage, as well as accuracy of infrasonic signal detection.