We present new radar-based techniques for efficient identification of surface changes generated by lava and pyroclastic flows, and apply these to the 1996 eruption of Manam Volcano, Papua New Guinea. Polarimetric L- and P-band airborne synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data, along with a C-band DEM, were acquired over the volcano on 17 November 1996 during a major eruption sequence. The L-band data are analyzed for dominant scattering mechanisms on a per pixel basis using radar target decomposition techniques. A classification method is presented, and when applied to the L-band polarimetry, it readily distinguishes bare surfaces from forest cover over Manam volcano. In particular, the classification scheme identifies a post-1992 lava flow in NE Valley of Manam Island as a mainly bare surface and the underlying 1992 flow units as mainly vegetated surfaces. The Smithsonian's Global Volcanism Network reports allow us to speculate whether the bare surface is a flow dating from October or November in the early part of the late-1996 eruption sequence. This work shows that fully polarimetric SAR is sensitive to scattering mechanism changes caused by volcanic resurfacing processes such as lava and pyroclastic flows. By extension, this technique should also prove useful in mapping debris flows, ash deposits and volcanic landslides associated with major eruptions.
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