Remote sensing offers the potential to understand the behavior of active lava flows by providing information on flow shape and morphology, temperature distribution, steepness of the slope, and other terrain parameters. The images of the recent Mt. Etna, Italy, lava flows presented here represent a major step in constraining some of these properties; in the future, images like these may be used to predict the course of a flow. The societal benefits of such predictions for hazard mitigation are obvious.
Current technology, however, has major limitations, such as the high cost and infrequent temporal coverage of satellite data and the unavailability of appropriate instrumentation on aircraft platforms, to name a few. Nevertheless, recent investigations like the one at Mt. Etna have demonstrated the capabilities of remote sensing for volcanological studies.