Blog Pile

Even South American Volcanos Have Wireless

Wireless technology spreads far and wide. A recent EurekAlert came my way (somewhere in the techie/gadget RSS feeds in my reader) that describes the use of wireless sensors to monitor the activity on Tungarahua in Ecuador (this one is for you, Michelle ;-):

A rumbling South American volcano has gone wireless: Computer scientists at Harvard University have teamed up with seismologists at the University of New Hampshire and University of North Carolina to fit an Ecuadorian peak with a wireless array to monitor volcanic activity. The sensors should help researchers, officials, and local residents understand and plan for eruptions of Tungarahua, one of Ecuador’s most active volcanoes in recent years.

The researchers installed the wireless network on Tungarahua and captured 54 hours of data during a recent trip to the 5,016-meter mountain. The wireless system could eventually replace the wired sensors now used on Tungarahua and many other volcanoes.

“Systems used to monitor volcanic activity rapidly capture huge amounts of data,” says Matthew D. Welsh, assistant professor of computer science in the Division of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard. “The wired systems now used to monitor Tungarahua and other volcanoes are expensive, quickly exhaust batteries, and force people to trek up the slopes of a volcano every few days to retrieve the data that has accumulated.”

Welsh and his colleagues fitted Tungarahua with a network of five tiny, low-power wireless sensor nodes equipped with a special microphone to monitor infrasonic (low-frequency acoustic) signals emitted during eruptions. Each runs on two AA batteries, is sealed in a waterproof container the size of a soap dish, and transmits data automatically to an observation post more than 5 miles away down the mountain.

Very cool, though I am relieved to be out of the Geology game and not being the poor grad student who needs to trek up the mountain to change the batteries ;-)

If they can get wireless up there, why is it so hard to get a signal in the Math building ;-)

Profile Picture for Alan Levine aka CogDog
An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.