A time series of measurements of magma flux at the lava dome of Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology


The lava dome that has been growing in the crater of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat since August 2005 is now visible above the crater rim. The dome poses increasing hazards of collapse and explosion due its size and the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) must assess these by observing the location and rates of dome growth. However, visual observations and conventional surveying methods cannot be used during the frequent periods when the dome is obscured by clouds. We propose, in collaboration with MVO, to measure, over a two week period, the shape and growth rate of the lava dome with the NERC-funded AVTIS (All-weather Volcano Topography Imaging Sensor) instrument which we built specifically to meet this need. In November 2005 we measured the dome with AVTIS from within the crater on two occasions. Now, without those logistical restrictions, we can measure the three dimensional surface of the lava dome using high resolution radar with this instrument at a rate of tens per day from sites outside the crater. These will reveal the way in which lava extrudes at the surface of the dome and the flux of magma into the dome changes over periods of hours to days and how these relate to the observable signals of gas flux and earthquakes. They may also show the conditions leading to a collapse of the dome. Such a detailed series of measurements have not been achieved before and we expect some exciting findings. In addition, we will make at least one measurement from within the crater to calculate the net growth rate since November 2005. This is the first opportunity anyone has had to make such detailed measurements of a growing lava dome with such an instrument and another opportunity may not present itself again for several years.


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Description During this Urgency grant we were able to measure the growth of lava dome during the early months of an eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano on Montserrat.
We were able to demonstrate:
(i) The ability of the AVTIS to make accurate lava flux measurements that were used by the observatory scientists
(ii) The ability of AVTIS to measure the lava dome temperature through dense cloud.
Exploitation Route We used the success of these findings to argue for funds to further develop the AVTIS instrument.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment

URL http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/~mmwave/mm-waves/avtis/
Description The ability to measure lava flux at high accuracy was an important realisation of the capability of the original design concept. This was taken forward in the design and construction of later models of AVTIS
First Year Of Impact 2006
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Environment
Impact Types Societal