Capturing the Acoustic Fingerprint of Stratospheric Ash Injection



More than 100 separate incidents of interactions between aircraft and volcanic ash were documented between 1973 and 2003. Incidents on international flight paths over remote areas have resulted in engine failures and significant damage and expense to commercial airlines. To protect aircraft from volcanic ash, pilots need rapid and reliable notification of ash- generating events. A global infrasound array network, consisting of the International Monitoring System (IMS) and other national networks, has demonstrated a capability for remote detection of Vulcanian to Plinian eruptions that can inject ash into commercial aircraft cruise altitudes (approximately 12 kilometers) near the tropopause. The identification of recurring sound signatures associated with high- altitude ash injection implies that acoustic remote sensing can improve the reliability and reduce the latency of these notifications.