Tracking the movement of Hawaiian volcanoes; Global Positioning System (GPS) measurement

Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)


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Most, if not all, volcanic eruptions are preceded by surface movements near the volcano. These ground movements are the response of the shallow crust to the accumulation of the magma or the buildup of magma pressure within a subterranean reservoir beneath the volcano. As the magma reservoir expands, the summit and the flanks of the volcano rise and spread apart. Measurements made at many volcanoes show that slow ground movement may precede an eruption by as many as several years. Sudden increases in the rate of ground movement often precede an eruption by a few hours or days.

At some well-studied volcanoes, surface movements of at least several centimeters take place out to distances of about 10 km from the summit of the volcano. Widespread deformation of this type is relatively easy to monitor, because the necessary survey stations can be placed at favorable sites some distance from the summit of the volcano. Examples of deformation of this type include Kilauea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii, Krafla in Iceland, Long Valley in California, Camp Flegrei in Italy, and Sakurajima in Japan. In contrast, surface movement at some other volcanoes, usually volcanoes with steep slopes, is restricted to places within about 1 km of their summits. Examples of this class of volcanoes include Mount St. Helens in Washington, Etna in Italy, and Tangkuban Parahu in Indonesia. Local movement on remote, rugged volcanoes of this type is difficult to observe using conventional methods of measuring ground movement, which generally require a clear line-of-sight between points of interest. However, a revolutionary new technique, called the Global Positional System (GPS), provides a very efficient, alternative method of making such measurements. GPS, which uses satellites and ground-based receivers to accurately record slight crustal movements, is rapidly becoming the method of choice to measure deformation at volcanoes. 

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tracking the movement of Hawaiian volcanoes; Global Positioning System (GPS) measurement
Series title Earthquakes & Volcanoes (USGS)
Volume 23
Issue 6
Year Published 1992
Language English
Publisher U.S Geological Survey
Description 13 p.
First page 255
Last page 267
Country United States
State Hawaii
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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