Ground deformation at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat during 1998–2000 measured by radar interferometry and GPS

G Wadge, G Mattioli, R Herd

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We examine the motion of the ground surface on the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat between 1998 and 2000 using radar interferometry (InSAR). To minimise the effects of variable atmospheric water vapour on the InSAR measurements we use independently-derived measurements of the radar path delay from six continuous GPS receivers. The surfaces providing a measurable interferometric signal are those on pyroclastic flow deposits, mainly emplaced in 1997. Three types of surface motion can be discriminated. Firstly, the surfaces of thick, valley-filling deposits subsided at rates of 150-120 mm/year in the year after emplacement to 50-30 mm/year two years later. This must be due to contraction and settling effects during cooling. The second type is the near-field motion localised within about one kilometre of the dome. Both subsidence and uplift events are seen and though the former could be due to surface gravitational effects, the latter may reflect shallow (< 1 km) pressurisation effects within the conduit/dome. Far-field motions of the surface away from the deeply buried valleys are interpreted as crustal strains. Because the flux of magma to the surface stopped from March 1998 to November 1999 and then resumed from November 1999 through 2000, we use InSAR data from these two periods to test the crustal strain behaviour of three models of magma supply: open, depleting and unbalanced. The InSAR observations of strain gradients of 75-80 mm/year/ km uplift during the period of quiescence on the western side of the volcano are consistent with an unbalanced model in which magma supply into a crustal magma chamber continues during quiescence, raising chamber pressure that is then released upon resumption of effusion. GPS motion vectors agree qualitatively with the InSAR displacements but are of smaller magnitude. The discrepancy may be due to inaccurate compensation for atmospheric delays in the InSAR data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-173
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 2006

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