Collaborative Research: RAPID: A Novel Magnetometer Network to Capture the Ongoing Inflationary Episode at Askja Volcano, Iceland

Lead PI: Dr Conor A. Bacon , Einat Lev , Joseph A Biasi

Unit Affiliation: Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

July 2023 - July 2024
Active
Europe ; Iceland
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: Millions of people in the United States and around the world live in areas with high volcanic risk. These risks can be better understood and also lessened with continuous, high-quality monitoring of volcanoes for any changes in activity or signs of imminent eruption. But these tools are logistically difficult to put in place and are expensive to maintain. This team will test if magnetic measurements can provide useful information about volcanic activity before eruption. They will also test whether the instruments needed can be built with inexpensive components. If magnetic measurements prove to be a reasonable alternative to more expensive techniques, then the capacity of civil defense authorities to prepare for volcanic eruptions will be greatly improved. The data can also be used to inform where other instruments should be placed, increasing the effectiveness of existing instrument networks. In addition to benefiting the United States, the low-cost nature of this technique could benefit other nations with high volcanic risk (Philippines, Mexico, etc.). The success of this project could bring high-quality volcanic risk-mitigation to all. All data collected as part of this project will be made publicly available as soon as possible.

Askja volcano?situated in Iceland?s Northern Volcanic Zone?last erupted in 1961, with a 0.7 km-long fissure opening and releasing 500 m-high lava fountains. In the intervening decades, the caldera-forming volcano has continued to deflate at a decaying rate. In August 2021, this trend rapidly reversed and Askja began to reinflate, with over 0.5 m of uplift observed at the center of inflation. Geodetic modeling of the available InSAR and GNSS positioning data has revealed a shallow sill-like magmatic source can explain the observed deformation, but the exact origin of the magma remains unclear. Modeling of a number of recent eruptions has shown that changes in the subsurface distribution of magma can produce a measurable change in the local magnetic field at the surface, but there are few to no datasets that capture such events in-situ making the modeling approach difficult to validate. In this project, a campaign network of passive magnetometers will be installed in and around Askja to capture the changes in the local magnetic field due to the continued influx of magma into the shallow crust. With these data reearchers will establish the value of such networks in volcanic systems, while also providing additional constraints for models that combine concurrent gravity surveys and continuous GNSS positioning observations.

BROADER IMPACTS: The magnetometry technique that we wish to test could significantly improve the capacity of civil defense authorities to prepare for volcanic eruptions. The low-cost nature of this technique will disproportionately benefit lower-income countries with high volcanic risk, including countries with significant populations in volcanic areas (Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, etc.). The low-cost magnetometers that we are developing are made of readily available components (<$250/unit), and all plans and source code will be publicly available and open source. The magnetometry data can also be used to determine where more expensive instruments should be placed, increasing the effectiveness of existing instrument networks. The success of this project could bring high-quality volcanic risk-mitigation to all.

SPONSOR:

National Science Foundation

FUNDED AMOUNT:

$38,236

EXTERNAL COLLABORATORS:

University of Wyoming

WEBSITE:

https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=2333178