Detailed cartography of Cotopaxi’s 1877 primary lahar deposits obtained by drone-imagery and field surveys in the proximal northern drainage

S. Daniel Andrade, Emilia Saltos, Valeria Nogales, Sebastián Cruz, Gareth Lee, Jenni Barclay

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Cotopaxi is an active volcano in Ecuador, whose eruptions are characterized by producing destructive primary lahars which represent a major risk for the country. The hazard assessment related to such lahars relies largely on the knowledge of the latest event, which occurred on 26 June 1877, for either scenario definition or simulation calibration. A detailed (1:5000 scale) cartography of the deposits belonging to that eruption has been obtained in the proximal northern drainage of Cotopaxi. The cartography was performed through a combination of geological fieldwork, as well as the analysis and interpretation of high-definition imagery obtained by drone surveys combined with the Structure from Motion technology for image processing. Such imagery included red and green visible bands, and a near-infrared band, which allowed the obtention of NDVI imagery where the primary lahar deposits were identified and cartographed with support of fieldwork data. Both data sources are mutually complementary, and the final cartography would be impossible if any of them were not available. The results obtained represent a significant advance for the level of detail with respect to previous cartographic works. Moreover, they should allow an improved calibration of the new generation of numerical models that simulate lahar flow for hazard assessment at Cotopaxi.
Original languageEnglish
Article number631
JournalRemote Sensing
Issue number3
Early online date28 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • 1877 eruption
  • Cotopaxi volcano
  • Drone-imagery
  • Geological mapping
  • Lahar hazard assessment
  • Primary lahars

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