We have investigated the effects of topography on the surface-deformation field of volcanoes. Our study provides limits to the use of classical half-space models. Considering axisymmetrical volcanoes, we show that interpreting ground-surface displacements with half-space models can lead to erroneous estimations of the shape of the deformation source. When the average slope of the flanks of a volcano exceeds 20??, tilting in the summit area is reversed to that expected for a flat surface. Thus, neglecting topography may lead to misinterpreting an inflation of the source as a deflation. Comparisons of Mogi's model with a three-dimensional model shows that ignoring topography may lead to an overestimate of the source-volume change by as much as 50% for a slope of 30??. This comparison also shows that the depths calculated by using Mogi's solution for prominent volcanoes should be considered as depths from the summit of the edifices. Finally, we illustrate these topographic effects by analyzing the deformation field measured by radar interferometry at Mount Etna during its 1991-1993 eruption. A three-dimensional modeling calculation shows that the flattening of the deflation field near the volcano's summit is probably a topographic effect.
Additional publication details
Effects of topography on the interpretation of the deformation field of prominent volcanoes - Application to Etna