Using satellite data to characterize the temporal thermal behavior of an active volcano: Mount St. Helens, WA



[1] ASTER thermal infrared data over Mt. St Helens were used to characterize its thermal behavior from Jun 2000 to Feb 2006. Prior to the Oct 2004 eruption, the average crater temperature varied seasonally between −12 and 6 C. After the eruption, maximum single-pixel temperature increased from 10 C (Oct 2004) to 96 C (Aug 2005), then showed a decrease to Feb 2006. The initial increase in temperature was correlated with dome morphology and growth rate and the subsequent decrease was interpreted to relate to both seasonal trends and a decreased growth rate/increased cooling rate, possibly suggesting a significant change in the volcanic system. A single-pixel ASTER thermal anomaly first appeared on Oct 1, 2004, eleven hours after the first eruption - 10 days before new lava was exposed at the surface. By contrast, an automated algorithm for detecting thermal anomalies in MODIS data did not trigger an alert until Dec 18. However, a single-pixel thermal anomaly first appeared in MODIS channel 23 (4 um) on Oct 13, 12 days after the first eruption - 2 days after lava was exposed. The earlier thermal anomaly detected with ASTER data is attributed to the higher spatial resolution (90 m) compared with MODIS (1 km) and the earlier visual observation of anomalous pixels compared to the automated detection method suggests that local spatial statistics and background radiance data could improve automated detection methods.