The project VOLUME has a clear overriding scientific objective: to advance understanding of processes leading to volcanic eruptions. In fact the rationale behind this project is to increase the understanding of how subsurface mass movement manifests itself at the surface, in turn revealing the significance of such movements as precursors to impending eruptions.
Subsidiary to that overriding objective is a more focused objective: to ‘invert' for sub-surface mass dynamics, on the basis of multidisciplinary, very broad band (0 to 30hz) near surface deformation observations and geochemical observations on the timescales of seconds to months. Volcanic eruptions are preceded by mass migration through a subsurface fracture network. A primary goal in monitoring active volcanoes is to capture, from the surface, measurements of sub surface mass movement.
Such movements, of multiphase fluids, are generally detected at the surface in terms of changes in geophysical (ground deformation, seismicity) and geochemical observables. Such variations are therefore viewed with considerable interest in terms of early recognition of precursors to an eruption.
However, changes in the seismicity, ground deformation and/or geochemical tracers are not always related to the dynamics of magma bodies alone, and therefore do not necessarily indicate an eruption onset.
Modern volcanology, even with abundant monitoring data, still does not identify diagnostic, unambiguous precursors to an eruption. The dynamics of volcanoes result in fact from the complex interplay between tectonic forces on regional scales, gravity forces on local scales and forces related to the activity of hydrothermal and magmatic systems. Understanding the relationships between these processes is therefore one of the major goals to be attained toward a quantitative assessment of precursors to volcanic eruptions.
The rationale behind VOLUME project is to increase our understanding of how subsurface mass movement manifests itself at the surface, in turn revealing the significance of such movements as precursors to impending eruptions. This project employs and integrates seismic, gravimetric, geochemical, terrestrial and space based deformation data.
It undertakes joint inversions of these datasets through iterative numerical forward modelling of coupled processes (e.g. multi-phase fluid pulses with elastic wave radiation in solids; gas and temperature with ground deformation and seismicity…). It will utilise existing data from permanent installations for a suite of test sites comprising different volcano types at differing times in their activity cycle, like Mt. Etna, Mt. Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei (Sicily, Italy), Mt. Ruapehu and White Island (New Zealand) Katla-Myrdalsjokull and Eyjafjallajokull volcanoes (Iceland), Mt. Teide (Canary Is, Spain) and Fogo Volcano (Azores, Portugal).