The changing shapes of active volcanoes: History, evolution, and future challenges for volcano geodesy

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



At the very heart of volcanology lies the search for the 'plumbing systems' that form the inner workings of Earth’s active volcanoes. By their very nature, however, the magmatic reservoirs and conduits that underlie these active volcanic systems are elusive; mostly they are observable only through circumstantial evidence, using indirect, and often ambiguous, surficial measurements. Of course, we can infer much about these systems from geologic investigation of materials brought to the surface by eruptions and of the exposed roots of ancient volcanoes. But how can we study the magmatic processes that are occurring beneath Earth’s active volcanoes? What are the geometry, scale, physical, and chemical characteristics of magma reservoirs? Can we infer the dynamics of magma transport? Can we use this information to better forecast the future behavior of volcanoes? These questions comprise some of the most fundamental, recurring themes of modern research in volcanology. The field of volcano geodesy is uniquely situated to provide critical observational constraints on these problems. For the past decade, armed with a new array of technological innovations, equipped with powerful computers, and prepared with new analytical tools, volcano geodesists have been poised to make significant advances in our fundamental understanding of the behavior of active volcanic systems.

The purpose of this volume is to highlight some of these recent advances, particularly in the collection and interpretation of geodetic data from actively deforming volcanoes. The 18 papers that follow report on new geodetic data that offer valuable insights into eruptive activity and magma transport; they present new models and modeling strategies that have the potential to greatly increase understanding of magmatic, hydrothermal, and volcano-tectonic processes; and they describe innovative techniques for collecting geodetic measurements from remote, poorly accessible, or hazardous volcanoes. To provide a proper context for these studies, we offer a short review of the evolution of volcano geodesy, as well as a case study that highlights recent advances in the field by comparing the geodetic response to recent eruptive episodes at Mount St. Helens. Finally, we point out a few areas that continue to challenge the volcano geodesy community, some of which are addressed by the papers that follow and which undoubtedly will be the focus of future research for years to come.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title The changing shapes of active volcanoes: History, evolution, and future challenges for volcano geodesy
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2005.11.005
Volume 150
Issue 1-3
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher Elsevier Science
Contributing office(s) Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, Volcano Hazards Program
Description 13 p.
First page 1
Last page 13
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