Skip to main content
Digital Volcano

Internet Of Volcanoes: Take A Dip Inside The World’s First Digital Lava Lake

Susanna Kim
August 21, 2017
Last summer, a small team of volcano experts supported by the Nicaraguan government and equipped with GE’s digital technology climbed down the gaping maw of Nicaragua’s Masaya volcano. They created the world’s first only zip line into an active volcano, plunging over 1,200 feet just above a huge, heaving lava lake where temperatures regularly exceed 1,000 degrees Celsius. The system allowed the crew to install and reposition wireless sensors that collect pressure, tremors, humidity levels and other data.
 width= Top: Last summer, a team of volcano experts equipped with GE’s digital technology — and super-heat-resistant suits — descended repeatedly into Nicaragua’s Masaya volcano. Above: The world's only surface-to-volcano-belly zip line enabled the team to install a sensor network to collect pressure, tremors, humidity levels and other data. The end goal: to create an early-warning system for one of the world's most active volcanoes. Images credit: Qwake.

Located just 12 miles south of the capital Managua, population 2.2 million, the 2,000-foot mountain has been belching noxious sulfur dioxide vapors pretty much nonstop since it last erupted in 2008. The mountain’s restlessness also made it a perfect candidate for modeling it into what may be the world’s first digital volcano whose shudders could be analyzed from afar.

A year later, the GE team has collected enough data to launch a digital version of the lava lake that could allow scientists to predict its next moves and provide a digital early warning system on one of the world’s most active volcanoes. The data is now also available to the public through Predix, GE’s software platform for the industrial internet. Anyone can use it to create apps that can analyze the information and gain new insights about volcanoes. Says Sam Cossman, explorer and expedition leader: “The goal of this project is to mitigate their potential risk and provide people with a better sense of what’s happening.”

The “open-source” expedition launched Aug. 22. You can see it here, and also dive in below: