Monitoring volcanic deformation

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Deformation signals recorded at volcanoes have long been used to infer the processes behind subsurface magma intrusions. Monitoring strategies vary greatly depending on several factors such as the activity of the individual volcano, access, available personnel, and funding.

Certain geodetic monitoring methods, such as Electronic Distance Measurements, are inexpensive but require that scientists be dangerously close to active areas. Other techniques, such as telemetered geodetic measurements (Electronic Tiltmeters and Global Navigation Satellite System), or deformation images from Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar, can be collected remotely and with less risk. Observed surface deformation can be fit to the predictions of mathematical source models to obtain quantitative estimates of their parameters (e.g., location, depth, volume change and more). Combined deformation and gravity change measurements can be used to infer the density of subsurface intrusions and better constrain the source of unrest.

To be effective, geodetic monitoring must be done before, during, and after eruptions and must be integrated with other monitoring techniques (e.g., seismology, geochemistry, physical volcanology, remote sensing). It requires the long-term commitment of time and resources.

Done effectively, geodetic monitoring not only can provide timely warnings of escalating volcano hazards but may also lead to improved understanding of how volcanoes work. Even when a volcano is not active, monitoring generates baseline information against which changes in volcano behavior can be compared. Preserving the integrity and accessibility of geodetic data archives is thus essential if future volcanologists are to benefit from the decades-long records of geodetic data gathered by volcano observatories.

Publication type Book chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Title Monitoring volcanic deformation
DOI 10.1016/B978-0-08-102908-4.00132-6
Edition 2
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher Academic Press
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 31 p.
Larger Work Type Book
Larger Work Subtype Monograph
Larger Work Title Encyclopedia of geology
First page 774
Last page 804
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