During the past few decades, time-variable volcano gravimetry has shown great potential for imaging subsurface processes at active volcanoes (including some processes that might otherwise remain “hidden”), especially when combined with other methods (e.g., ground deformation, seismicity, and gas emissions). By supplying information on changes in the distribution of bulk mass over time, gravimetry can provide information regarding processes such as magma accumulation in void space, gas segregation at shallow depths, and mechanisms driving volcanic uplift and subsidence.
Despite its potential, time-variable volcano gravimetry is an underexploited method, not widely adopted by volcano researchers or observatories. The cost of instrumentation and the difficulty in using it under harsh environmental conditions is a significant impediment to the exploitation of gravimetry at many volcanoes. In addition, retrieving useful information from gravity changes in noisy volcanic environments is a major challenge. While these difficulties are not trivial, neither are they insurmountable; indeed, creative efforts in a variety of volcanic settings highlight the value of time-variable gravimetry for understanding hazards as well as revealing fundamental insights into how volcanoes work.
Building on previous work, we provide a comprehensive review of time-variable volcano gravimetry, including discussions of instrumentation, modeling and analysis techniques, and case studies that emphasize what can be learned from campaign, continuous, and hybrid gravity observations. We are hopeful that this exploration of time-variable volcano gravimetry will excite more scientists about the potential of the method, spurring further application, development, and innovation.