Related Research Areas
Earth Surface & Interior

The importance of catastrophic slope failure or sector collapse as a process fundamental to the geomorphic evolution of volcanic edifices has been documented for active composite and shield volcanoes in different tectonic environments. Sector collapse occurs when a volcano can no longer support its own load and results in the formation of debris avalanches and lahars. Lava dome failure, although different from sector collapse in spatial and temporal scales, may also affect significantly the geomorphic evolution of volcanic edifices, produce devastating and deadly pyroclastic flows, causing significant edifice erosion and surface mass redistribution, and possibly tsunami if the flows enter the sea. An estimated 20,000 fatalities, associated with only a few debris avalanches, occurred during the 20th century. We propose to use Global Positioning System (GPS) geodesy, SLICER (Scanning Lidar for Canopy Echo Recovery) laser altimetry, and Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM) data to examine sector and dome collapse and their roles in the topographic evolution of terrestrial volcanoes. Use of spaced-based geodetic techniques, when coupled with numerical models, may be the best way to mitigate the significant hazards associated with edifice failure. We intend to focus on the Soufriere Hills volcano (SHV) in Montserrat, where we have collected GPS geodetic data since 1995. We will examine three cases, which span the spatial and temporal diversity of edifice and dome collapse events at SHV, and that we believe are broadly representative of similar processes elsewhere. While previous analytical, analog, and numerical models have identified several important factors essential for initiation of flank or dome collapse, no quantitative model has yet been developed to predict the magnitude and timing of failure. We propose to upgrade the existing 6 cGPS sites and modify existing RF telemetry and data protocols to allow real-time streaming of 1 Hz GPS data using NTRIP technology. We would also add direct satellite uplink to assure that the data stream would be available to the US science community for analysis and modeling. This approach is similar to the public-beta system currently being tested by UNAVCO for a small sub-set of primarily fault proximal sites within PBO. Given that SHV has shown significant and rapid deformation previously (during the 1997 edifice and 2003 dome collapse events), this proposal can be viewed as an excellent opportunity to test the utility and robustness of remotely acquired 1 Hz GPS data on a dynamically evolving and potentially dangerous volcano and how these data may be used to understand and mitigate massive volcanic collapse events elsewhere. Our integrated approach will be to leverage NASA topographic data and combine it with standard and high-rate GPS geodetic data to constrain new finite element models for steady-state and catastrophic edifice and dome failure. This will provide an improved framework for understanding volcanic behavior, one of the overarching goals of NASA-ESI to use knowledge of the Earth's changing surface to observe, predict, and mitigate volcanic hazards.

Project PI: Glen Mattioli/University of Arkansas

Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences Geoscience Building Box 19049, 500 Yates Street University of Texas at Arlington Arlington, TX 76019-0049

Phone: (817) 272-2987 Fax: (817) 272-2628



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Started: Aug 09, 2010

Last Activity: Mar 17, 2011


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