Imaging the Magmatic System Beneath Torfajoekull Volcano, in Iceland: A Combination of Radar and Seismic Interferometry
Martins, Joana; Hooper, Andy; Draganov, Deyan; Ruigrok, Elmer
TU Delft, NETHERLANDS
Magmatic plumbing systems beneath active and moderately active volcanoes are often poorly constrained. A better knowledge of the shape, size and location of the magma bodies would enable us to better predict magma movements preceding an eruption.
Surface displacements estimated from radar interferometry (InSAR) can be used in geophysical modelling to constrain location, geometry and pressure changes in magma systems. However, the resolution of the inferred magma chamber is typically poor. More insight into the location and geometry of magmatic systems can be gained using active-source reflection seismic surveys, which allow detection of velocity contrasts at the edges of the magma bodies. The drawback of this technique is that controlled-source surveys are expensive. As an alternative, seismic interferometry (SI) uses cross-correlation of natural signals to generate new seismic records that simulate active sources.
Under the premise that both seismic and radar observations would help to narrow down the location, shape and size of a magma system, we present the first results of combined radar and seismic interferometric processing over Torfajoekull volcano.
Torfajoekull is located in the neovolcanic zone, in the south of Iceland. The volcano is characterized by intense thermal manifestations (hot springs forming ground steaming and fumaroles) with higher activity nearby the faults of the active NE-SW fissure swarm. Torfajoekull erupts infrequently, with only two eruptions in the last 1200 years, the latest of which was over 5 centuries ago. However, ongoing seismicity, deformation and geothermal activity indicate the continued presence of a long-lasting magma chamber. Although historical eruptions have been relatively small, the large caldera (18x12 km diameter) and high geothermal activity within the caldera is evidence of a massive eruption in the past, and the potential for a further eruption of similar size is unknown.
We applied InSAR time series analysis to data acquired by Envisat over the Torfajoekull region along 6 different tracks (3 tracks in ascending and 3 tracks in descending mode). The estimated velocity maps show subsidence beneath the SW part of the caldera. This subsidence has been on-going since at least 1993, with rates of up to ~13 mm/yr. This has been interpreted as a cooling magma chamber, shrinking at linear rates. To obtain a rough approximation of the geometry and location of the source of subsidence we ran a forward model. The model suggest an ellipsoidal magma chamber within the volcano caldera with a NE-SW orientation and at ~5km depth.
For the SI processing we use two types of natural signals: microseisms and local earthquakes. We use seismic data acquired in 2005 at 30 stations sparsely distributed around the Torfajoekull area. Using microseisms, we divide the noise, recorded at two stations in portions of 1h, cross-correlate the corresponding portions and then sum the correlated results. The result is a retrieved surface-wave part of the Green's function between the two stations. This is repeated between all stations. Careful assessment of the quality of the retrieved Green's functions for small time windows allows analysis of the microseism noise. The results show that the microseisms are dominant in the NW-SE direction and the resulting retrieved surface waves propagate at ~3 km/s in the double-frequency microseism band. The retrieved surface waves between the stations will be used in tomographic inversion that will allow derivation of the 3D S-wave velocity distribution in the subsurface. We will then use these results to better constrain our magma source model, currently constrained only by InSAR.