New satellite tools for volcano monitoring and geothermal prospecting

In a recent article for The Conversation postdoctoral researcher Will Hutchison discusses the huge potential for geothermal energy in Ethiopia. Although almost 80 % of Ethiopia’s population has no access to grid electricity there are a large number of volcanic systems that hold untapped geothermal resources. Will and co-authors show how satellite techniques, which are used routinely for volcano monitoring, might also be used to discover and monitor new geothermal resources within Africa’s Great Rift Valley. 

The figure shows a false-colour ASTER image of Aluto volcano, Ethiopia. The volcanic complex is nestled between two large lake bodies (visible at the top and bottom of the image) and has been developed for geothermal energy. However, relatively little is known about Aluto’s eruptive history. Obsidian lava flows can be seen fanning off the complex, and the most recent lava flows are represented by the darkest black colours (Credit Will Hutchison; NASA).