Volcanic hail detected with GPS: The 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn Volcano, Iceland

Geophysical Research Letters
By: , and 



Volcanic plumes are challenging to detect and characterize rapidly, but insights into processes such as hail formation or ash aggregation are valuable to hazard forecasts during volcanic crises. Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS, which includes GPS) signals traveling from satellites to ground receivers can be disturbed by volcanic plumes. To date, two effects aiding plume detection from GNSS observations have been described: (a) ash‐rich plumes scatter the signal, lowering the signal‐to‐noise ratio (SNR), and (b) some plumes refract and thus delay GNSS signals. Using GNSS data from the VEI 4 2011 Grímsvötn eruption, we show that tephra and water contents of plumes distinctly affect SNR and phase residuals. The signals suggest high‐altitude freezing of plume water into volcanic hail—corroborated by 1‐D modeling and volcanic hail deposits. Combining GNSS SNR and phase residual analyses is valuable for detecting processes that rapidly scrub fine ash out of the atmosphere.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Volcanic hail detected with GPS: The 2011 eruption of Grímsvötn Volcano, Iceland
Series title Geophysical Research Letters
DOI 10.1029/2018GL080317
Volume 45
Issue 22
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 12,236
Last page 12,243
Country Iceland
Other Geospatial Grímsvötn Volcano
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