Sustained Uplift at a Continental Rift Caldera

Ryan Lloyd*, Juliet Biggs, Yelebe Birhanu, Matthew Wilks, Joachim Gottsmann, J. Michael Kendall, Atalay Ayele, Elias Lewi, Hjálmar Eysteinsson

*Corresponding author for this work

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

13 Citations (Scopus)
239 Downloads (Pure)


Caldera systems are often restless and experience pulses of uplift and subsidence, with a weak, but significant link to eruption. Characterizing the spatial and temporal patterns of deformation episodes provides insight into the processes responsible for unrest and the architecture of magmatic and hydrothermal systems. Here we combine interferometric synthetic aperture radar images with data from Global Positioning System and a network of seismometers at a continental rift caldera Corbetti, Ethiopia. We document inflation that started mid-2009 and is ongoing as of 2017, with associated seismicity. We investigate the temporal evolution of the deformation source using a Hastings-Metropolis algorithm to estimate posterior probability density functions for source model parameters and use the Akaike information criterion to inform model selection. Testing rectangular dislocation and point sources, we find a point source at a depth of 6.6 km (95% confidence: 6.3 − 6.8 km) provides the statistically justified fit. The location of this source is coincident with a conductive anomaly derived from magnetotelluric measurements. We use a joint inversion of two geodetic data sets to produce a time series, which shows a volume input of 1.0 × 107 m3/year. This is the first observation of a prolonged period of magma reservoir growth in the Main Ethiopian Rift and has implications for hazard assessment and monitoring. Corbetti is < 20 km from two major population centers and has estimated return periods of ∼500 and ∼900 years for lava flows and Plinian eruptions, respectively. Our results highlight the need for long-term geodetic monitoring and the application of statistically robust methods to characterize deformation sources.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5209-5226
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number6
Early online date28 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2018


  • caldera
  • Corbetti
  • Ethiopia
  • InSAR
  • seismicity

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