Volcanic Eruptions. Infrared Photography

I took this image from my Lab, a couple of weeks ago. I live close to Mount Etna, the tallest active volcano in Europe, about 3,300 m high. Etna is in an almost constant state of activity and we are kind of used to those smoke plumes.


April 2013. Etna eruption seen from my Lab.

Scientists have been fascinated by Etna’s eruptions already long time ago. The first we know about is Empedocles (c. 490–430 BC), a Greek philosopher from Agrigentum, a Greek city in Sicily. He’s famous for introducing the theory of the four Classical elements, – fire, air, water, earth. Diogenes Laertius and other Greek and Roman writers report that he perished since he let himself fall into the crater in order to discover Etna’s secrets. We would call him an experimental physicist.

Empedocles as portrayed in the Nuremberg Chronicle (Wikipedia)

I’m not that curious as Empedocles, so I just did some investigation from the doorstep of my lab, using my 200 mm telephoto lens.

In this post I showed how a modified digital camera for infrared photography can be used as a thermal camera to imaging hot objects and I took, as an example,  some shots of a hot plate turned on. The thermal radiation of an object at about 1000 degree Celsius has a tail in the digital photographic infrared region and, indeed, the hot plate appeared bright.

Well, lava is a pretty hot staff and so I thought it was worth to take a video with my IR modified digital camera using both the visible and the infrared filters on the lens. Furthermore, infrared light can penetrate smoke better than visible light (infrared cameras are used by fire depths).

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  1. John Anderson April 23, 2013 at 6:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Antonio, I’ve never visited Sicily, but a trip up mount Vesuvius put me off living close to a volcano!

    Best wishes,

    John Anderson.

    • Antonino Cosentino April 23, 2013 at 11:12 pm - Reply

      Etna, is all another story, though!

  2. enzo fontana May 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm - Reply

    You’re right!!

  3. gary bartoloni May 29, 2013 at 2:37 pm - Reply

    are you truly a vulcanologist ? if yes, maybe you can solve Naples trash problem !!!! I remember several years ago, the strike which caused trash to mount up to the second floor in the streets of Naples because the land fill had been closed due to over filling. We ( Italians) have an ability to see unique solutions to problems which are sometimes out of the accepted norm, but in essence work. My idea was to have Naples buy a number of Sikorski Skycrane helicopters and a very large compactor..when the allotted amount of trash tonnage is reached, it is compacted, then flown up to the mouth of Vesuvius and dropped in ! It is a very large area, and, when Vesuvius erupts again,it will all be incinerated at no cost and no one in Naples will remain to be effected by the fallout ! Sono solamente quasi scherzando ! Gary

    • antonino May 29, 2013 at 3:28 pm - Reply

      Ahaha, sounds good. Actually, as you know, there is just one problem about waste in Italy, that it is a business run by criminals…

  4. Linda August 14, 2013 at 7:29 pm - Reply

    Love your IR/Visible light comparison of volcano. Have been shooting IR since March 2013, and intrigued by the images it produces.

    • antonino August 14, 2013 at 8:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda, thank you. It was interesting to see how the camera worked out on the lava explosions.

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