Kenneson G. Dean leads the satellite-monitoring group for the Alaska Volcano Observatory (AVO) project in Fairbanks. Research objectives include dynamics, spectral properties and composition of eruption clouds; the dynamics and sources of thermal anomalies; and changes in surface landforms caused by eruptions. Satellite data are used to detect, monitor and analyze potential airborne and surface hazards resulting from volcanic eruptions, including volcanic clouds and thermal anomalies. Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES), Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR), and Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) images are used for daily monitoring and analysis. AVHRR and MODIS data are received and analyzed in real-time at stations at the Geophysical Institute. GOES data is received over computer networks. Landsat, Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER) and Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) data are used for retrospective studies of surface volcanic processes.
Volcanoes in the North Pacific Region include those in Alaska and on the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia, are the primary focus of these studies. Analyzed images are shared with various components of the AVO through a file server and ftp in near real-time. . Another component of his research involves the Puff dispersion model, which is used to predict the movement, dynamics and structure of volcanic ash clouds. The model uses current wind fields to track hypothetical particles on a global or regional scale. Dispersion, settling, particle size, plume height and shape of the eruption column are input parameters. The model is used for both volcano monitoring and research. The focus of research includes probability maps of the distribution of ash particles in the North Pacific Region, model sensitivity analyses and fallout predictions. The model is actively updated and improved based on research results. Ken teaches a graduate class entitled, "Remote Sensing of Volcanic Eruptions," (GEOS 692) in the Department of Geology and Geophysics. This class is taught every other year and is focused on satellite monitoring techniques used at AVO and other volcano observatories around the world. Jonathan Dehn is a co-instructor for the class. Graduate students under Ken's direction learn about acquisition, processing and analysis of satellite data, and how these data are used to monitor and study volcanic processes. Students are a critical component to daily volcano monitoring for the AVO project.