Observations of precursory deformation during volcanic crises

Posted on 08.25.2015
Inflation of six volcanoes revealed by an averaged 2006-2009 ground velocity map of west Sunda, Indonesia, from ALOS InSAR. Positive velocity (red colors) represents movement towards the satellite (inflation). Insets: zoom into the six inflating volcanoes. Three erupted (Sinabung, Kerinci and Slamet). From Chaussard & Amelung [2012].

Breakthrough technological advances in the form of near-real time geodetic observations from Interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) can provide critical early warning of volcanic activity. Eruptions are typically preceded by the ascent of new magma to shallow storage levels, resulting in swelling of the ground surface, which is observable with satellites. However, there are only few examples in which InSAR contributed to crises assessment, largely because not enough observations were available, because the interpretation of inflation in terms of eruption potential was ambiguous, and because it was difficult to resolve small changes because of the InSAR noise.

We are currently funded by NASA to improve on previous approaches for eruption prediction along three fronts. First, we are utilizing near-real time SAR imagery provided for volcanic crises by the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS) to derive near-real time geodetic data (“volcano event Supersites”). Second, we are utilizing finite element methods and geodynamical magma chamber evolution models in which ground deformation depends on the chamber geometry, the host-rock viscosity, and the magma overpressure. Third, we are integrating these modeling approaches with the real-time InSAR data using a model-data assimilation framework based on Ensemble Kalman Filtering (EnKF). This framework will provide an updated estimate of the magma overpressure whenever a new SAR image is acquired. The deliverable of this project is an operational methodology for eruption prediction for the DESDYnI era.

We are looking for graduate students and a Postdoc to participate in this project! Please click on the link for prospective students for more information.

COLLABORATORS: Falk Amelung (U of Miami)

FUNDING: This work is currently funded by NASA.