Eruptions that form lava domes are extremely common. Although the majority of the mass erupts as lava, domes often also eject ash; lava domes thus ride the line between effusive (lava) and explosive (ash and pumice) activity. I use time-lapse photogrammetry to study the Santiaguito lava dome complex at the base of Santa Maria volcano (Guatemala).

Digital Surface Models from 2.5 km

Time-lapse photogrammetry provides a method for quantifying decimeter scale motion at high frequency (as fast as synchronized image sets are acquired) from a safe distance (>2.5 km). To achieve this goal I use cameras with synchronized radio triggers built by Tim Gooding (of Mineral Sciences) and a custom photogrammetry program that I have written for MatLab.


The custom photogrammetry program tracks individual points through time and space. This means that velocity fields are (or displacement fields through time) are measured.

Explosion at Caliente Dome

It's a good idea to keep a safe distance from the erupting dome. Santiaguito's Caliente Dome at 0130, 12 November 2012.