A quick overview of my current VCMap project, which can currently be found at http://www.volcanocafe.org/vcmap
I would like to start off by thanking Spike Page for being the inspiration for this project. A couple of weeks ago, Spike wrote on Spike’s Facebook page asking for someone to test out a Google Earth file. This file contained volcano webcams from all over Central and North America.
Having tested the file and confirmed all was working, I got to think as to whether there was any way of embedding this information onto the site for easy viewing. This led me to Cesium.
Starting with a blank canvas, I first needed to make sure I was going to be able to embed the different elements that I would prefer to use, mainly .kml files. These files are used and generated in Google Earth and display location data for objects and various locales around the planet, so using this we can plot any point, generate a .kml file and have it imported into our Map.
Luckily for us, this file format is also generated and used widely by many sources on the web, some of which fall right into the type of information that we would want to use, such as the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. The Smithsonian Institution has a list of all the volcanoes on the planet and has generated a .kml file with all the volcanoes marked (They also generate a weekly report, which will be added at a later date).
One downside to Cesium is that it doesn’t provide any options for loading individual items from inside a .kml file. This means that whilst the Google Earth file creates a nice, neat selection of folders all regionalised, Cesium loads everything into a huge eye-wrenching muddle. I have gone through and broken the Smithsonian .kml file into smaller regional chunks that can be turned off and on for ease.
Each volcano marked can be clicked and a pop-up information box is provided by the Smithsonian.
Another resource I have added is the earthquake layer. Using .kml files generated by the US Geological Society (USGS) and their European counterparts, the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre (EMSC), we can view all the earthquakes from around the planet from the past 7 days at a magnitude of 1.0+ from the USGS layer, or from the past 2 weeks at a magnitude of 2.0+ from the EMSC layer.
These files are kept up to date in almost real time by the organisations in question, however, they provide all the markers that go along with these files and this means we are limited in what we can do with them.
For instance, personally I find the USGS data much more pleasing on the eye, it is simple to view and understand with each earthquake colour coded depending on their age and the marker for them resized depending on magnitude. Simple to understand at a glance.
The EMSC data, however, is not colour coded depending on the date, its colour coded depending on the depth of the earthquake. The markers used by EMSC are also different, whilst the USGS uses solid circles, EMSC uses only the outline of circles meaning these are more difficult to see.
So, why did I not just use the USGS data?
Unfortunately, the data provided by the USGS is, perhaps unsurprisingly, US-centric. They do provide markers and data for quakes all over the planet, but the coverage in Europe is very limited, whereas, EMSC lists all the quakes in Europe.
At this point, I was happy with what was achieved, we had a viewer that showed all the volcanoes around the planet and all the earthquakes. I started to plan what I was going to add next, Spike had already provided me with a list of webcams in a handy .kml file, so this was probably going to be my next layer to add.
Then I received a new version of the file from Spike, and it contained a wealth of new data.
Spike has not only tracked down many webcams from around the planet, but added data from Iceland, Italy, Indonesia and New Zealand, such as live seismograph data, and strain and tremor data.
When I saw the Icelandic data, I knew I had to get it added!
One of my many volcano-related bookmarked web pages was the map of Icelandic drumplots. This provided an at-a-glance overview of what was happening in Iceland and made it very easy to pinpoint, or at least hazard a guess as to the location of an earthquake that appeared on the traces.
For some reason, IMO decided to remove this functionality, but now we have been able to restore this data onto our map for the world to see.
I have included 2 layers, both showing traces from the drumplots, but one shows the 2.0 Hz highpass trace and the other the lower frequency 0.7hz lowpass trace. These both update whenever the page is loaded, so the latest image can be seen and clicking a trace opens a pop up of a larger view
So, what’s next?
In the short term, I will continue to add more data from Spike. As I stated above, the file Spike sent me has a wealth of data to be added. Next up will be the seismic data from Italy, Indonesia and New Zealand, as well as the tremor and strain data from Iceland. Then I will start tackling the webcam.
The Webcams, if all works as I hope, will show a thumbnail of the current view from each location. This will update as the camera updates meaning we have another at-a-glance view of the situation. Hopefully, I can post these cameras as close as possible to their actual location, meaning we can see roughly where we are getting each view from. This will mean we will be able to get a clearer idea of where any activity view is coming from.
Medium term plans include a better menu layout for selecting the different viewing layers, this is pretty low on my list at the moment, but is pencilled in for a future revamp.
Also planned is adding a search function, there was one originally in Cesium, but this only allowed searching for cities and the like. I would like to be able to search for a specific volcano and for the map to take us to it, but as it stands this function is disabled.
Another future update will provide 3d terrain. I can actually add this now, but when I do it causes a lot of the layers to vanish underneath the terrain, so again this is disabled.
Longer term plans are open for discussion. What would YOU like to see added? I do plan to add more and more data from around the planet as time progresses, but if something specific is suggested and approved, I will get it added.
I hope you enjoy using the program and any suggestion for improvements will be taken into consideration and implemented if possible.