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Summary of Proposal GEO1206

TitleMonitoring volcanic-tectonic interaction during the current mega-eruption of Nabro volcano, Eritrea(MOVIMENA)
Investigator Wright, Tim - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
Team Member
Prof Peltzer, Gilles - UCLA, Department of Earth and Space Sciences
Dr Pagli, Carolina - University of Leeds, School of Earth and Environment
Dr Doubre, Cecile - Institut de Physique du Globe de Strasbourg, Dynamique globale
Dr Grandin, Raphael - Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, Laboratoire de Geologie
SummaryThe aim of the proposal is to request emergency acquisition of TerraSAR-X data over the Nabro volcano, in Eritrea, in the general area of the Afar triple junction. An episode of intense volcanic and tectonic activity started on June 12th, 2011, including a week-long emission of a dense gas and ash plume, lava flow traveling over > 10 km, and earthquakes reaching Mw=5.7. While this volcano belongs to a large volcanic complex responsible for the largest eruption in Africa in 1861, this eruption is the most important volcanic episode observed in the Afar region. Available volcanological information suggests that the Nabro volcano has emitted enormous amounts of ignimbrite in the geological past. However in contrast to the nearby Dabbahu-Manda Hararo rift that has been active between 2005 and 2010, the Nabro area is not known to concentrate a large part of the extensive deformation associated with the continental break-up taking place in Afar. The intense volcanic production of Nabro in the past appears to have covered any preexisting tectonic structure, and no prominent normal fault or rift structure can be identified in the topography. But mechanisms of the earthquakes recorded during the current crisis, and alignments of volcanic cones suggest a strong interaction between magmatism and tectonic divergence in this plate boundary region. A spatial geodetic survey of this volcanic event is crucial to follow the pattern of crustal deformation involved in this event and could therefore bring strong changes on our current understanding of the location of the tectonic plate boundaries propagating into Afar.Deformation data is expected to allow us to determine whether the eruption could be associated with the intrusion of one or a series of dykes below the edifice, and to constrain the volume of magma involved in eruption/intrusion.
TerraSAR-X data will be processed with state-of-the-art InSAR methods to measure the deformation of the ground surface during the current crisis, including time-series processing. Resulting InSAR data will be interpreted and inverted using mechanical models of magma intrusions. Lava flow extension will be mapped precisely, and post-eruptive subsidence of the flows is expected to provide constraints on their thickness, and henceforth their volume.

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