Related Research Areas
Earth Surface & Interior

One of the major unknowns in earthquake and volcano science is whether and how earthquakes trigger volcanic eruptions. It is well recognized that there is a short-term interaction related to the seismic waves (minutes to days after the earthquake) but there is no consensus on whether there is a longer term interaction (month to decades after the earthquake). There are many examples of eruptions following earthquakes, but there are also many examples of large earthquakes lacking triggered activity. The reason why is has been difficult to obtain conclusive data is that the static deformation decays rapidly with distance from the fault. Here we outline a research proposal to study volcano triggering by the 2004/2005 Sumatra earthquakes. These were the worldwide largest earthquakes since 44 years and provide a unique opportunity for a systematic study of volcano triggering because they affected the entire northern Sumatra volcanic arc. This project will test the hypothesis that external decompression of magma reservoirs by earthquakes triggers eruptions. The hypothesis is supported by three volcanic crises in the Sumatra-Andaman arc in 2005 and by previous work showing that the largest subduction earthquakes were all associated with an increase of volcanic activity. Understanding the effect of external forcing is key to develop predictive models for volcanic systems, one of the goals of NASA’s Earth Science enterprise. We will test this hypothesis with a ground deformation survey of the Sumatra volcanic are using satellite-based Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR). The project is supported by a unique Radarsat-1 dataset of the Sumatran volcanoes acquired since the 2004/2005 earthquakes, and by imagery of the JERS and ALOS satellites. The data will be made available to the community through the Southeast Asia Natural Laboratory, a regional SAR data sharing network following the WinSAR model.

Project PI: Falk Amelung/University of Miami

University of Miami 4600 Rickenbacker Causway Miami, Florida, 33149

Phone: 305 421 4949



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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Dec 10, 2010


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