Seismicity and subsidence following the 2011 Nabro eruption, Eritrea: Insights into the plumbing system of an off-rift volcano

Joanna E. Hamlyn*, Derek Keir, Tim J. Wright, Jürgen W. Neuberg, Berhe Gezahegn, James O S Hammond, Carolina Pagli, Clive Oppenheimer, J. Michael Kendall, Raphaël Grandin

*Corresponding author for this work

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

26 Citations (Scopus)


Nabro volcano, situated to the east of the Afar Rift Zone, erupted on 12 June 2011. Eruptions at such off-rift volcanoes are infrequent, and consequently, the plumbing systems are poorly understood. We present posteruption Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images from the TerraSAR-X satellite and posteruption continuous seismic activity from a local seismic array. Interferometric analysis of SAR data, reveals a circular, 12 km wide, signal subsiding at ∼200 mm/yr. We inverted for the best fit Mogi source finding a 4 ± 1 × 107 m3/yr volume decrease at 7 ± 1 km depth. Between 31 August and 7 October 2011, we located 658 and relocated 456 earthquakes with local magnitudes between -0.4 and 4.5. Seismicity beneath the SE edge of Nabro at 11 km depth is likely associated with high strain rates from deep magma flow into the modeled reservoir. This suggests that magma is supplied through a narrow conduit and then stored at ∼km depth. We interpret seismicity at 4-6 km depth as brittle fracturing above the inferred magma reservoir. Focal mechanisms delineate a thrust fault striking NE-SW and dipping 45 to the SE across the caldera floor. We propose that the crustal response is to slip on this fault which crosscuts the caldera rather than to deform on ring faults. The NE-SW fault plane is not associated with measurable surface deformation, indicating that it does not contribute much to the caldera deformation. We show that subsidence of the caldera is controlled by magma chamber processes rather than fault slip.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8267-8282
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


  • Afar
  • focal mechanisms
  • geodetic modeling
  • InSAR
  • microseismicity
  • off-rift volcanism

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