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Infrared remote sensing monitoring is a significant tool aimed to integrated surveillance system of active volcanic areas. In this paper we describe the realization and the technological evolution of the permanent image thermal infrared (TIR) surveillance system of the Vesuvius volcano. The TIR monitoring station was installed on the Vesuvius crater rim on July 2004 in order to acquire scenes of the SW inner slope of Vesuvius crater that is characterized by a significant thermal emission. At that time, it represented the first achievement all over the world of a permanent surveillance thermal imaging system on a volcano. It has been working in its prototypal configuration till May 2007. The experience gained over years about the engineering, management and maintenance of TIR remote acquisition systems in extreme environmental conditions, allows us to design and realize a new release of the TIR monitoring station with improved functionalities and more flexibility for the IR image acquisition, management and storage, which became operational in June 2011. In order to characterize the thermal background of the Vesuvius crater at present state of volcanic quiescence, the time series of TIR images gathered between July 2004 and May 2012 were analyzed using a statistical approach. Results show no significant changes in the thermal radiation during the observation periods, so they can be assumed as representative of a background level to which refer for the interpretation of possible future anomalies related to a renewal of the volcanic dynamics of the Vesuvius volcano.
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