Koeppen, WC; Pilger, E; Wright, R (2011). Time series analysis of infrared satellite data for detecting thermal anomalies: a hybrid approach. BULLETIN OF VOLCANOLOGY, 73(5), 577-593.
We developed and tested an automated algorithm that analyzes thermal infrared satellite time series data to detect and quantify the excess energy radiated from thermal anomalies such as active volcanoes. Our algorithm enhances the previously developed MODVOLC approach, a simple point operation, by adding a more complex time series component based on the methods of the Robust Satellite Techniques (RST) algorithm. Using test sites at Anatahan and KA << lauea volcanoes, the hybrid time series approach detected similar to 15% more thermal anomalies than MODVOLC with very few, if any, known false detections. We also tested gas flares in the Cantarell oil field in the Gulf of Mexico as an end-member scenario representing very persistent thermal anomalies. At Cantarell, the hybrid algorithm showed only a slight improvement, but it did identify flares that were undetected by MODVOLC. We estimate that at least 80 MODIS images for each calendar month are required to create good reference images necessary for the time series analysis of the hybrid algorithm. The improved performance of the new algorithm over MODVOLC will result in the detection of low temperature thermal anomalies that will be useful in improving our ability to document Earth's volcanic eruptions, as well as detecting low temperature thermal precursors to larger eruptions.