Observing eruptions of gas-rich, compressible magmas from space

Brendan McCormick-Kilbride, Marie Edmonds, Juliet Biggs

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)
541 Downloads (Pure)


Observations of volcanoes from space are a critical component of volcano monitoring, but we lack quantitative integrated models to interpret them. The atmospheric sulfur yields of eruptions are variable and not well correlated with eruption magnitude and for many eruptions the volume of erupted material is much greater than the subsurface volume change inferred from ground displacements. Up to now, these observations have been treated independently, but they are fundamentally linked. If magmas are vapor saturated prior to eruption, bubbles cause the magma to become more compressible, resulting in muted ground displacements. The bubbles contain the sulfur-bearing vapor injected into the atmosphere during eruptions. Here we present a model that allows the inferred volume change of the reservoir and the sulfur mass loading to be predicted as a function of reservoir depth and the magma’s oxidation state and volatile content, which is consistent with the array of natural data.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13744
Number of pages8
JournalNature Communications
Publication statusPublished - 21 Dec 2016


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