New company offers volcano tracking tools

Release Date: 
Monday, January 27, 2014
Augustine in 2006, Photo by C. ReadA new company will offer technology featuring volcano-tracking products developed by the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute.

V-ADAPT Inc., which stands for Volcanic Ash Detection, Avoidance and Preparedness for Transportation, will offer online services geared toward the airline industry and others who need to detect and track volcanic activity.

“We think we have a well-established customer base with the airline industry,” said Jon Dehn, V-ADAPT president and research associate professor with the GI’s Remote Sensing Research Group.

V-ADAPT will provide access to data products in near real-time and tools that allow users to be informed about volcanic activity. The tools display satellite data and offer the online user a layered interface to interpret the data. This service also includes ash cloud detection and updates on thermal conditions, where remote sensing data detects changes in a volcano’s surface temperature preceding activity.

V-ADAPT’s service will also provide a volcanic ash cloud tracking model, which was developed by the GI in the early 1990s. This service gives an online look at where the airborne ash will be and how much fallout can occur from a volcanic eruption. These simulations are displayed as an online map with an interactive display, explained Peter Webley, V-ADAPT’s vice president and an assistant research professor with GI’s remote sensing group. Webley is responsible for refining the model to its current form.

“Right now, we can forecast where an ash cloud will go based on simulations made before the eruptive event and we can predict how ash will impact an airport, city or oil platform,” Webley said. “This helps engineers and risk analysts plan for a major event and means that when an eruption occurs, decisions can be made quicker.”

UAF’s Office of Intellectual Property and Commercialization recently filed a patent for Dehn’s and Webley’s new modeling methods. Nanook Tech Ventures, a startup accelerator founded in April 2013, takes equity in start-up companies in exchange for UAF-developed technology and took part in creating V-ADAPT Inc.

“We’re looking forward to the success of this ready-made software in the private sector,” said Dan White, associate vice chancellor for research at UAF. “With UAF conducting more than $110 million in research last year, we see a variety of opportunities for new and existing companies based on newly developed technology and software. It is our goal to make sure these new technologies make their way to creating wealth in Alaska companies.”

Last year, 73 UAF inventions were disclosed to OIPC.

Jon Dehn, 907-322-0676,
Peter Webley, 907-978-2561,
Diana Campbell, 907-474-5229,
Amy Hartley, GI Public Information Officer, 907-474-5823,


 PHOTO CAPTION/CREDIT: Alaska's Augustine Volcano as seen on March 27, 2006. Photo by Cyrus Read, via AVO/USGS.