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Front. Earth Sci. | doi: 10.3389/feart.2018.00249

Space-based Imaging Radar Studies of U.S. Volcanoes – Past, Present, and Future

 Daniel Dzurisin1*, Zhong Lu2,  Michael P. Poland1 and Charles W. Wicks3
  • 1Cascades Volcano Observatory, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (USGS), United States
  • 2Southern Methodist University, United States
  • 3United States Geological Survey, United States

The arrival of space-based imaging radar as a revolutionary land-surface mapping and monitoring tool little more than a quarter century ago enabled a spate of innovative volcano research worldwide. Soon after launch of European Space Agency’s ERS-1 spacecraft in 1991, the U.S. Geological Survey began SAR and InSAR studies of volcanoes in the Aleutian and Cascades arcs, in Hawaiʻi, and elsewhere in the western U.S. including the Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas. This paper summarizes results of that effort and presents new findings concerning: (1) prevalence of volcano deformation in the Aleutian and Cascade arcs; (2) surface-change detection and hazard assessment during eruptions at Aleutian and Hawaiian volcanoes; (3) geodetic imaging of magma storage and transport systems in Hawaiʻi; and (4) deformation sources and processes at the Yellowstone and Long Valley calderas. Surface deformation caused by a variety of processes is common in arc settings and could easily escape detection without systematic InSAR surveillance. Space-based SAR imaging of active lava flows and domes in remote or heavily vegetated settings, including during periods of bad weather and darkness, extends land-based monitoring capabilities and improves hazards assessments. At Kīlauea Volcano, comprehensive SAR and InSAR observations identify multiple magma storage zones beneath the summit area and along the East Rift Zone, and illuminate magma transport pathways. The same approach at Yellowstone tracks the ascent of magmatic volatiles from a mid-crustal intrusion to shallow depth and relates that process to increased hydrothermal activity at the surface. Together with recent and planned launches of highly capable imaging-radar satellites, these findings support an optimistic outlook for near-real time surveillance of volcanoes at global scale in the coming decade.

Keywords: InSAR, Kilauea, Three Sisters, Medicine Lake Volcano, Lassen Volcanic Center, Long Valley caldera, Yellowstone Caldera, Aleutian volcanic arc, Cascade arc

Received: 01 Aug 2018; Accepted: 20 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Federico Di Traglia, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Reviewed by:

Andrea Bevilacqua, University at Buffalo, United States
S K Ebmeier, University of Leeds, United Kingdom  

Copyright: © 2018 Dzurisin, Lu, Poland and Wicks. 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(s) 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: Dr. Daniel Dzurisin, Cascades Volcano Observatory, Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (USGS), Vancouver, United States,