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Posted on October 2nd, 2018

Our Changing Landscape – Mount Yasur, Vanuatu

In this monthly feature, we span the globe to examine Our Changing Landscape with a time series of medium resolution RapidEye satellite imagery. The RapidEye archive dates back to late 2008 and already contains more than 14 billion square kilometers of data. In September we found ourselves in Japan looking at a series of recent eruptions on Mount Ontake, and for this Our Changing Landscape we stick with the volcano theme, focusing this time on Mount Yasur, Vanuatu.

Click on the image above to see an animation of 5-meter natural color RapidEye imagery collected over Mount Yasur on March 21, 2011, January 21, 2013, February 18, 2015 and June 22, 2016. As has been the trend with these volcano articles, the four images here have smoke rising out of the calderas which makes color balancing the images properly nearly impossible. But regardless, if you check out the internal caldera, you can certainly see changes in its shape and dimensions from 2011 to 2016. All things said, some pretty neat images here! (Images Courtesy: © Planet 2018)

The RapidEye Constellation

RapidEye is a constellation of five 5-meter medium resolution satellites each offering five spectral bands of information. The RapidEye constellation offers daily revisits to every location on the planet with a huge footprint that is 77-km wide. The data is priced competitively with a starting cost of $1.28 per square kilometer for all five spectral bands – academics do receive discounts. RapidEye adds a fifth band, the red edge, to the ‘traditional’ multispectral set of blue, green, red and near-infrared (NIR). The additional spectral data in the red edge band allows users to extract more useful land ‘information’ than can be from traditional 4-band imagery sources. When RapidEye imagery is ordered as a Level 3A Orthorectified product, images from multiple dates are extremely well registered, making it the ideal data source for Our Changing Landscape.

The Many Eruptions of Mount Yasur

Mount Yasur is a 1,184 foot (361 meters) tall volcano located on Tanna Island which is a part of the island nation of Vanuatu. A part of the Ring of Fire, Mount Yasur is a constantly active stratovolcano with an iconic steep mountain profile and a circular caldera centered on top. In 1774, Captain James Cook spotted the islands of Vanuatu largely due to the volcano’s glow from its nearly hourly eruptions. Mount Yasur is one of Vanuatu’s biggest tourist attractions and with its non-stop eruptions for hundreds (possible thousands?) of years, it is ringed by a buffer of forests and grasslands from the inhabitants of Tanna Island. As this is a wrist-injury shortened article, it is time to turn to the 5-meter RapidEye archive to see if we can capture some of these hourly eruptions in the imagery record!

If you would like to find out more about using RapidEye for your academic studies, engineering projects or any landscape analysis, let us know at or (303) 993-3863.

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