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Towards Improved Forecasting of Volcanic Eruptions

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Front. Earth Sci. | doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00007

Forecasting the location of volcanic eruptions from pre-eruptive surface deformation

  • 1Physics of Geological Processes, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Norway
  • 2Geosciences Rennes, UMR 6118, OSUR, University of Rennes 1, France
  • 3Centre for Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry, Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden

Volcanic eruptions pose a threat to lives and property when volcano flanks and surroundings are densely populated. The local impact of an eruption depends firstly on its location, whether it occurs near a volcano summit, or down on the flanks. Then forecasting, with a defined accuracy, the location of a potential, imminent eruption would significantly improve the assessment and mitigation of volcanic hazards. Currently, the conventional volcano monitoring methods based on the analysis of surface deformation assesses whether a volcano may erupt but are not implemented to locate imminent eruptions in real time. Here we show how surface deformation induced by ascending eruptive feeders can be used to forecast the eruption location through a simple geometrical analysis. Our analysis builds on the results of 33 scaled laboratory experiments simulating magma intrusions in a brittle crust, during which the intrusion-induced surface deformation was systematically monitored at high spatial and temporal resolution. In all the experiments, surface deformation preceding the eruptions resulted in systematic uplift, regardless of the intrusion shape. The analysis of the surface deformation patterns leads to the definition of a vector between the centre of the uplifted zone and the point of maximum uplift, which systematically acted as a precursor to the eruption’s location. The temporal evolution of this vector indicated the direction in which the subsequent eruption would occur and ultimately the location itself, irrespective of the feeder shapes. Our findings represent a new approach on how surface deformation on active volcanoes could be analysed and used prior to an eruption with a real potential to improve hazard mitigation.

Keywords: surface deformation, Laboratory modelling, Cone sheets, dykes, Eruption forecasting

Received: 09 Oct 2017; Accepted: 22 Jan 2018.

Edited by:

Nicolas Fournier, GNS Science, New Zealand

Reviewed by:

Luca Caricchi, Université de Genève, Switzerland
Alessandro Bonforte, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Guldstrand, Galland, Hallot and Burchardt. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mr. Frank B. Guldstrand, Department of Geosciences, University of Oslo, Physics of Geological Processes, Oslo, Norway, f.b.b.guldstrand@geo.uio.no