Virginia Tech Doctoral Student Teams with International Researchers to Learn More about Ol Doinyo Lengai
Considered young in comparison to other volcanoes, Ol Doinyo Lengai has been viewed as a petrological mystery since its first recorded eruption in the late 1800s. While typical terrestrial magma consists of silicon and oxygen, Ol Doinyo Lengai erupts carbonatite magma. Monitoring this volcano’s inflation and deflation in real-time has been one of the case-studies for the National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded EarthCube project CHORDS (Cloud-Hosted Real-time Data Services for the Geosciences) for several years. Scientists from Virginia Tech, Ardhi University in Tanzania, and the Korea Institute for Geosciences and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) researchers set up the monitoring project to better understand the East African Rift and the hazards of the volcano.
Real-time GNSS data allows researchers to better understand the puzzling Ol Doinyo Lengai volcano, which is located in Tanzania.
“We have recently implemented real-time Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) sensors on Ol Doinyo Lengai that allow us to collect one data point per second,” said Joshua Jones, a Virginia Tech doctoral student. “We created a data broker coined TZVOLCANO to collect and share the sensor information with the broader scientific community.”
The TZVOLCANO application is based on CHORDS and provides data services for real-time streaming so that researchers can remotely observe the activities within this youthful rift region. Jones said that this data also allows the team to learn more about how continents break apart and what types of hazards may be associated with specific types of volcanic activity, including earthquake hazards.
“One of our first findings was that volcanic activity has the potential to trigger movement on faults through the transfer of extremely small stresses,” he said. “Now, we are building upon this knowledge for not only additional fundamental science discovery, but also hazard mitigation for the people in the area.”
EarthCube participant Joshua Jones, a graduate research assistant at Virginia Tech, has been working with an international team of collaborators on the development and implementation of TZVOLCANO, which streams real-time data from sensors that monitor Ol Doinyo Lengai into a user-friendly portal (tzvolcano.chordsrt.com) available for the geoscience community.
While in graduate school, Jones has been an active volunteer with the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Leadership Council as an early-career representative and has also completed several fieldwork excursions at the site of Ol Doinyo Lengai. “Our data broker app, TZVOLCANO, would not have been developed without the resources and tools shared by the CHORDS team,” said Jones. “We are all continuing to work together to support open source data for successful investigations of volcano-tectonic interactions and are grateful to EarthCube for making this happen.”
– Kimberly Mann Bruch