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High-resolution InSAR reveals localized pre-eruptive deformation inside the crater of Agung Volcano, Indonesia

June 19, 2023

During a volcanic crisis, high-rate, localized deformation can indicate magma close to the surface, with important implications for eruption forecasting. However, only a few such examples have been reported, because frequent, dense monitoring is needed. High-resolution Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is capable of achieving <1 m spatial resolution and sub-weekly revisit times, but is under-used. Here we use high-resolution satellite SAR imagery from COSMO-SkyMed, TerraSAR-X, and Sentinel-1 to detect intra-crater uplift preceding the November 2017 onset of eruptive activity at Agung, Indonesia. Processing the SAR imagery with an up-to-date, accurate, high-resolution digital elevation model was crucial for preventing aliasing of the deformation signal and for accurate georeferencing. We show that >15 cm of line-of-sight shortening occurred over a 400-by-400 m area on the crater floor in September-October 2017, accompanying a deep seismic swarm and flank dyke intrusion. We attribute the deformation to the pressurization of a shallow (<200 m deep) hydrothermal system by the injection of magmatic gases and fluids. We also observe a second pulse of intra-crater deformation of 3–5 cm within 4 days to 11 hr prior to the first phreatomagmatic eruption, which is consistent with interaction between the hydrothermal system and the ascending magma. This phreatomagmatic eruption created the central pathway used during the final stages of magma ascent. Our observations have important implications for understanding unrest and eruption forecasting, and demonstrate the potential of monitoring with high-resolution SAR.

Publication Year 2023
Title High-resolution InSAR reveals localized pre-eruptive deformation inside the crater of Agung Volcano, Indonesia
DOI 10.1029/2022JB025669
Authors Mark Bemelmans, Juliet Biggs, Michael P. Poland, James Wookey, Susanna Ebmeier, Angela K. Diefenbach, Devy Damil Syahbana
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
Index ID 70245161
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center