4D volcano gravimetry

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Time-dependent gravimetric measurements can detect subsurface processes long before magma flow leads to earthquakes or other eruption precursors. The ability of gravity measurements to detect subsurface mass flow is greatly enhanced if gravity measurements are analyzed and modeled with ground-deformation data. Obtaining the maximum information from microgravity studies requires careful evaluation of the layout of network benchmarks, the gravity environmental signal, and the coupling between gravity changes and crustal deformation. When changes in the system under study are fast (hours to weeks), as in hydrothermal systems and restless volcanoes, continuous gravity observations at selected sites can help to capture many details of the dynamics of the intrusive sources. Despite the instrumental effects, mainly caused by atmospheric temperature, results from monitoring at Mt. Etna volcano show that continuous measurements are a powerful tool for monitoring and studying volcanoes. Several analytical and numerical mathematical models can be used to fit gravity and deformation data. Analytical models offer a closed-form description of the volcanic source. In principle, this allows one to readily infer the relative importance of the source parameters. In active volcanic sites such as Long Valley caldera (California, U.S.A.) and Campi Flegrei (Italy), careful use of analytical models and high-quality data sets has produced good results. However, the simplifications that make analytical models tractable might result in misleading volcanological interpretations, particularly when the real crust surrounding the source is far from the homogeneous/isotropic assumption. Using numerical models allows consideration of more realistic descriptions of the sources and of the crust where they are located (e.g., vertical and lateral mechanical discontinuities, complex source geometries, and topography). Applications at Teide volcano (Tenerife) and Campi Flegrei demonstrate the importance of this more realistic description in gravity calculations.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title 4D volcano gravimetry
Series title Geophysics
DOI 10.1190/1.2977792
Volume 73
Issue 6
Year Published 2008
Language English
Publisher Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program, Volcano Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page WA3
Last page WA18
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