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Elucidating the magma plumbing system of Ol Doinyo Lengai (Natron Rift, Tanzania) Using satellite geodesy and numerical modeling

June 13, 2023

Ol Doinyo Lengai, located in the southern Eastern Branch of the East African Rift had several eruptive episodes with ash falls and lava flows (VEI 3) that caused damage to the nearby communities between 2007 and 2010. The volcano is remote and access is difficult. Although this volcano has been studied for decades, its plumbing system is still poorly understood, in part, because of the lack of precise observations of surface deformation during periods of quiet and unrest. This study investigates the volcanic plumbing system of Ol Doinyo Lengai and its surroundings using data from the network of permanent Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) sites monitoring the volcano (the TZVOLCANO network) around the flanks of the volcano and Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) observations. We constrain surface motions using 6 GNSS sites distributed around Ol Doinyo Lengai, operating between 2016 and 2021, and InSAR data covering nearly the same time period. Because of the complex local tectonics, the interpretation of the deformation pattern is not straightforward. We first invert the GNSS deformation and InSAR observations independently to infer potential deformation sources. Then we perform a joint inversion of both GNSS and InSAR datasets to verify our findings. We compare the results from the joint inversion with the results from inverting each dataset independently. The GNSS, InSAR, and joint inversion results point to a deflating source, located east of Ol Doinyo Lengai and southwest of the dormant volcano Gelai at a depth of 3.49 ± 0.03 km (GNSS inversion), 5.2 ± 1.2 km (InSAR inversion) and 3.49 ± 0.06 km (joint inversion) relative to the summit (vent) and with a volume change ∆V of −0.04 ± 0.05 × 106 m3 (GNSS inversion), −0.39 ± 0.29 × 106 m3 (InSAR inversion), and − 0.04 ± 0.01 × 106 m3 (joint inversion). Although this is non-unique modeling of geodetic datasets with small signals, the inversion results suggest that Ol Doinyo Lengai could be fed by an offset multi-reservoir system that includes a shallow magma reservoir (<5 km) east of Ol Doinyo Lengai, possibly connected to a deeper magma reservoir.

Publication Year 2023
Title Elucidating the magma plumbing system of Ol Doinyo Lengai (Natron Rift, Tanzania) Using satellite geodesy and numerical modeling
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2023.107821
Authors Ntambila Daud, Sarah Stamps, Maurizio Battaglia, Mong-Han Huang, Elifuraha Saria, Kang-Hyeun Ji
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Resources
Index ID 70246259
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center