The newly established remote sensing center at the University of Buea, UB has started working. Volcanologist and Researcher, Dr. Gerald Ernst of the Department of Geology and Soil Science, University of Gent, the brain behind the Remote Sensing Centre in UB explained what it is all about. “We shall be doing satellite observations of the environment of the volcano and monitor changes on the volcano so that we can be better prepared for the next eruption, by concerting with the local population, especially in a town like Buea with a volcanic mountain.” According to the researcher, the scientists at the centre have specific responsibilities; “They will be acquiring observations from satellite such as showing where we have lava flows, understand where past lava flows have gone and also build an understanding of where it is for possible lava flows to go, how far they may reach and to observe areas that might be susceptible to landslides. It is a combination of field work.”
The Volcanologist found a link between the Volcanic Monitoring Centre in Ekona and that planted in the campus of UB. “The centre in Ekona is specialised in monitoring earthquakes, put in place by the government of Cameroon. When an eruption happens, the Ekona centre provides expertise information on the previous earthquakes. So, this can be very useful to detect when an eruption can start. Therefore, what we’re doing in UB is to bring in additional information that cannot be collected elsewhere. We think that satellite images can provide us with good information that will compliment the efforts being made at Ekona,” he explained. Though Dr. Ernst described the UB Remote Sensing Centre as a modest project, he also sees its tremendous importance to Cameroon. “UB has been working very hard to see this project come to reality and make it available for the community.
Cameroonians will be happy to know more about the environment in which they live in, to show that research in Cameroon can bring pride to the country and that African scientists can make a difference by setting up a very unique volcanic monitoring centre in the continent. This will help the local community with information that the local council(s) can exploit and the university,” he said.
Dr. Ernst will quickly add that the students of UB, especially in the Department of Geology and Environmental Science, in collaboration with their lecturers, will be given pride of place at the Remote Sensing Centre also known as Environmental Monitoring Unit. “Regular invitations will be given to the local communities and other stakeholders to come and consult and be informed about what is happening in their vicinity. The facilities are new; the computers are state-of-the-art and other accompanying gadgets.”