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Insight into ground deformations at Lascar volcano (Chile) from SAR interferometry, photogrammetry and GPS data: Implications on volcano dynamics and future space monitoring

Remote Sensing of Environment
Publication Date
  • Soufriere Hills Volcano
  • Cyclic Activity
  • Northern Chile
  • Eruptions
  • Collapse
  • Interferograms
  • Montserrat
  • Surface
  • Etna


We present a detailed study of Lascar volcano (Chile) based on the combination of satellite, aerial and ground-based data, in order (i) to better characterize the deformation style of Andean explosive volcanoes, and (ii) to provide new insights on the potential of space techniques to monitor active volcanic deformations on such edifices. Lascar is one of the most active volcanoes in Central Andes characterized by a recent cyclic activity. Additionally, it is located in favourable conditions for radar imaging. Lascar thus offers very good conditions for studying large to small scale ground deformations associated with volcano dynamics. The analysis of InSAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar interferometry) time series data from the European and Japanese satellites (ERS, JERS) acquired between 1993 and 2000, encompassing three eruptive events, confirmed the absence of broad far-field deformation signal. Thus during the recent activity of Lascar we discard significant magmatic input at depth. The following approaches were used to improve the InSAR signal/noise ratio in order to detect possible local deformation. We carried out a quantitative evaluation of the potential tropospheric contribution in INSAR interferograms for the Salar de Atacama-Lascar area using radar (ASAR-ENVISAT) and spectrometer (MODIS) data. We also used an accurate aerial photogrammetric and GPS constrained DEM in our InSAR data reprocessing. We find a co-eruptive ground-deformation confined into the summit crater for the 1995 eruption. This deformation has spatial dimension of 500 by 400 in and relates to a subsidence of crater floor up to 17 mm. We interpret it as pressure or volume decrease at subsurface levels below the active crater. Our study made it possible to image a new near-field volcanic deformation confined within the summit crater of the Lascar volcano. It also demonstrates that the combination of precise photogrammetry DEM and INSAR data can significantly improve our ability to remotely sense subtle surface deformation on these explosive volcanoes. This methodology might contribute to better understand volcano dynamics and to complement their monitoring in remote areas.

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