Benoît SMETS

Department of Geography
Cartography and GIS
Vrije Universiteit Brussel


+32-2-629 33 82


I am a geoscientist working in the field of remote sensing, photogrammetry, geohazards and volcanology. I am half-time Assistant Professor in Remote Sensing at the Department of Geography of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Cartography and GIS Research Group) and half-time Senior Researcher in the Department of Earth Sciences of the Royal Museum for Central Africa (Natural Hazards Research Unit). My current research focuses on the use of optical and radar imagery to study geohazards and their interactions with urban environments. More specifically, I work with (In)SAR remote sensing, photogrammetry, UAV imagery and historical aerial photographs on case studies mostly located in Africa. Since 2007, I developed an expertise in the understanding of volcanic, magmatic and tectonic processes associated with the Lake Kivu rift basin and Virunga Volcanic Province, in the western branch of the East African Rift System.

  • Mboga N., Grippa T., Georganos S., Vanhuysse S., Smets B., Dewitte O., Wolff E., Lennert M., 2020. Fully convolutional networks for land cover classification from historical panchromatic aerial photographs. ISPRS Journal of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing 167, 385-395. doi:
  • James M. R., Carr B., D’Arcy F., Diefenbach A., Dietterich H., Fornaciai A., Lev E., Liu E., Pieri D., Rodgers M., Smets B., Terada A., von Aulock F., Walter T., Wood K., Zorn E., 2020. Volcanological applications of unoccupied aircraft systems (UAS): Developments, strategies, and future challenges. Volcanica 3(1), 67-114. doi: 10.30909/vol.03.01.67114
  • Morrison A. A., Whittington A., Smets B., Kervyn M., Sehlke A., 2020. The Rheology of Crystallizing basaltic lavas from Nyiragongo and Nyamuragira volcanoes, DRC. Volcanica 3 (1), 1-28. doi: 10.30909/vol.03.01.0128
  • Barrière J., d’Oreye N., Oth A., Mashagiro N., Subira J., Kervyn F., Smets B. 2019. Seismicity and outgassing dynamics of Nyiragongo volcano. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 528, 115821. doi: 10.1016/j.epsl.2019.115821
  • Dille A., Kervyn F., Bibentyo T.M., Delvaux D., Ganza G.B., Mawe G.I., Buzera C.K., Nakito E.S., Moeyersons J., Monsieurs E., Nzolang C., Smets B., Kervyn M., Dewitte O. 2019. Causes and triggers of deep-seated hillslope instability in the tropics–Insights from a 60-year record of Ikoma landslide (DR Congo). Geomorphology 345, 106835. doi: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2019.106835/
  • Smets B., d’Oreye N., Michellier C., Kervyn F. 2018. Study and Monitoring of the Virunga Volcanoes: Long-Term Involvement of Belgium and Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg. Bulletin des Séances de l’Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer (In Press).
  • Smets B., Michellier C., Syavulisembo, A.M., Muganga G., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2018. Very High-Resolution Imaging of the City of Goma (North Kivu, D.R. Congo) Using SfM-MVS Photogrammetry. IGARSS 2018 – 2018 IEEE International Geoscience and Remote Sensing Symposium, 3370-3373. doi: 10.1109/IGARSS.2018.8517412
  • Wauthier C., Smets B., Hooper A., Kervyn F., d’Oreye N. 2018. Identification of subsiding areas undergoing significant magmatic carbon dioxide degassing, along the northern shore of Lake Kivu, East African Rift. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 363, 40-49. doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2018.08.018
  • Barrière J., d’Oreye N., Oth A., Geirsson H., Mashagiro N., Johnson J., Smets B., Samsonov S., Kervyn F. 2018. Single-station seismo-acoustic monitoring of Nyiragongo’s lava lake activity (DR Congo). Frontiers in Earth Sciences 6, 82. doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00082
  • Geirsson H., d’Oreye N., Mashagiro N., Syauswa M., Celli G., Kadufu B., Smets B., Kervyn F. 2017. Volcano-tectonic deformation in the Kivu Region, Central Africa: Results from six years of continuous GNSS observations of the Kivu Geodetic Network (KivuGNet). Journal of African Earth Sciences 134, 809-823. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.12.013
  • Barette F., Poppe S., Smets B., Benbakkar M., Kervyn M. 2017. Spatial variation of volcanic rock geochemistry in the Virunga Volcanic Province: Statistical analysis of an integrated database. Journal of African Earth Sciences 134, 888-903. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.09.018
  • Smets B., d’Oreye N., Kervyn M., Kervyn F. 2017. Gas piston activity of the Nyiragongo lava lake: First insights from a Stereographic Time-Lapse Camera system. Journal of African Earth Sciences 134, 874-887. doi:10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2016.04.010
  • Poppe S., Smets B., Fontijn K., Rukeza M.B., Migabo A., Milungu A.K., Namogo D.B., Kervyn F., Kervyn M. 2016. Phreatomagmatic eruptions alongside the densely populated Lake Kivu northern shoreline (DRC and Rwanda): physical volcanology, timing and hazard implications. Bulletin of Volcanology 78, 82. doi:10.1007/s00445-016-1074-8
  • Smets B., Delvaux D., Ross K.A., Poppe S., Kervyn M., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2016. The role of inherited crustal structures and magmatism in the development of rift segments: Insights from the Kivu basin, western branch of the East African Rift. Tectonophysics 683, 62–76. doi:10.1016/j.tecto.2016.06.022
  • Wauthier C., Smets B., Keir D. 2015. Diking-induced moderate-magnitude earthquakes on a youthful rift border fault: The 2002 Nyiragongo-Kalehe sequence, D.R. Congo. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 16(12), 4280–4291. doi: 10.1002/2015GC006110
  • Wauthier C., Cayol V., Smets B., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2015. Magma Pathways and Their Interactions Inferred from InSAR and Stress Modeling at Nyamulagira Volcano, D.R. Congo. Remote Sensing 7(11), 15179–15202. doi:10.3390/rs71115179
  • Syavulisembo A. M., Havenith H.-B., Smets B., d’Oreye N., Martì J. 2015. Preliminary assessment for the use of VORIS as a tool for rapid lava flow simulation at Goma Volcano Observatory, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Natural Hazards & Earth System Sciences 15, 2391–2400. doi:10.5194/nhess-15-2391-2015
  • Smets B., Kervyn M., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2015. Spatio-temporal dynamics of eruptions in a youthful extensional setting: Insights from Nyamulagira Volcano (D.R. Congo), in the western branch of the East African Rift. Earth-Science Reviews 150, 305–328. doi:10.1016/j.earscirev.2015.08.008
  • De Rauw D., Kervyn F., d’Oreye N., Smets B., Albino F., Barbier C. 2015. Split-Band Interferometric SAR processing using TanDEM-X data. In Proceedings of FRINGE 2015, Advances in the Science and Applications of SAR Interferometry and Sentinel-1 InSAR Workshop, ESA SP-731, 7 pp.
  • Albino F., Smets B., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2015. High-resolution TanDEM-X DEM : an accurate method to estimate lava flow volumes at Nyamulagira volcano (D.R. Congo). Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth 120 (6): 4189-4207 – DOI: 10.1002/2015JB011988
  • Smets B., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F. 2014. Toward Another Lava Lake in the Virunga Volcanic Field? EOS Transactions American Geophysical Union 95 (42), 377-378 – DOI: 10.1002/2014EO420001 (Peer-Reviewed Press Article)
  • Ross K.A., Smets B., De Batist M., Hilbe M., Schmid M., Anselmetti F.S. 2014. Lake-level rise in the late Pleistocene and active subaquatic volcanism since the Holocene in Lake Kivu; East African Rift. Geomorphology 221, 274-285 – DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.05.010
  • Smets B., d’Oreye N., Kervyn F., Kervyn M., Albino F., Arellano S.R., Bagalwa M., Balagizi C., Carn S.A., Darrah T.H., Fernández J., Galle B., González P.J., Head E., Karume K., Kavotha D., Lukaya F., Mashagiro N., Mavonga G., Norman P., Osodundu E., Pallero J.L.G., Prieto J.F., Samsonov S., Syauswa M., Tedesco D., Tiampo K., Wauthier C., Yalire M.M. 2014. Detailed multidisciplinary monitoring reveals pre- and co-eruptive signals at Nyamulagira volcano (North Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo). Bulletin of Volcanology 76 (1): 787, 35p. – DOI: 10.1007/s00445-013-0787-1
  • Samsonov S., d’Oreye N., Smets B. 2013. Natural and anthropogenic ground deformation monitored using high spatio-temporal resolution MSBAS time series method. MultiTemp 2013: 7th International Workshop on the Analysis of Multi-temporal Remote Sensing Images 1–3. doi:10.1109/Multi-Temp.2013.6866021
  • Wauthier C., Cayol V., Poland M., Kervyn F., d’Oreye N., Hooper A., Samsonov S., Tiampo K., Smets B. 2013. Nyamulagira’s magma plumbing system revealed by 15 years of InSAR. Geological Society of London Special Publications 380: Remote Sensing of Volcanoes and Volcanic Processes: Integrating Observation and Modelling, 39-65. – DOI: 10.1144/SP380.9
  • Samsonov S., d’Oreye N., Smets B. 2013. Ground deformation associated with post-mining activity at the French-German border revealed by novel InSAR time series method. International Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 23, 142-154. – DOI: 10.1016/j.jag.2012.12.008
  • Smets B., Wauthier C., d’Oreye N., 2010. A new map of the lava flow field of Nyamulagira (D.R.Congo) from satellite imagery. Journal of African Earth Sciences 58 (5), AVCoR Special Issue, 778-786. – DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2010.07.005
  • Smets B., Tedesco D., Kervyn F., Kies A., Vaselli O., Yalire M.M. 2010. Dry gas vents (“mazuku”) in Goma region (North-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo): formation and risk assessment. Journal of African Earth Sciences 58 (5), AVCoR Special Issue, 787-798. – DOI: 10.1016/j.jafrearsci.2010.04.008
  • van Overbeke A.-C., Bagalwa M., Durieux J., Kavotha D., Kies A., Kervyn F., Lukaya F., Mitangala P., d’Oreye N., Osodundu E., Smets B., Tedesco D., Wauthier C., Yalire M. 2010. Monitoring of volcanic activity in the Goma region (N-Kivu, Democratic Republic of Congo) and mitigation of related risks by both spaceborne and ground-based techniques: experience of the GORISK project. Proceed. ECGS Cahiers bleus – 26th ECGS Workshop on Active Volcanism & Continental Rifting, with special focus on the Virunga (North Kivu, DR of Congo), Volume 29, 89-96.
  • Calais E., d’Oreye N., Albaric J., Deschamps A., Delvaux D., Deverchere J., Ebinger C., Ferdinand R.W., Kervyn F., Macheyeki A.S., Oyen A., Perrot J., Saria E., Smets B., Stamps S., Wauthier C. 2008, Strain accommodation by slow slip and dyking in a youthful continental rift, East Africa, Nature, Vol. 456, p.783-787. – DOI: 10.1038/nature07478

VeRSUS — Open-Vent Volcano Remote Sensing Monitoring Using Spaceborne Imagery
Belgian Science Policy Office, STEREO-III Programme, Contract N° SR/00/382 | 2019-2022
Coordinator: Benoît Smets (VUB/RMCA)
Other partners: Nicolas Theys (BIRA-IASB), Nicolas d’Oreye (ECGS/NMNH), Christoph Kern (USGS)
Personal role: Coordination, SfM photogrammetry, SAR-shadow measurements, thermal remote sensing 

PAStECA — Historical Aerial Photographs and Archives to Assess Environmental Changes in Central Africa
Belgian Science Policy Office, BRAIN-be Programme, Contract N° BR/165/A3/PASTECA | 2016-2022
Coordinator: Olivier Dewitte (RMCA)
Other partners: Gerard Govers (KUL), Eléonore Wolff (ULB)
Personal role: Development of the photogrammetric processing workflow for the historical aerial photographs

MUZUBI — MUlti Zone phase Unwrapping using advanced Split Band Interferometry
Belgian Science Policy Office, STEREO-III Programme, Contract N° SR/00/324 | 2015-2017
Coordinators: Dominique Derauw & Anne Orban (CSL)
Other partners: François Kervyn (RMCA), Nicolas d’Oreye (ECGS/NMNH),Yanina Rubio (Comahue National University)
Personal role: Validation of SBInSAR topographic products using very-high-resolution drone-based digital elevation models


MSc Geography (in English):

GIS Programming — 6 ECTS
Remote Sensing of the Environment — 3 ECTS