A multi-data stream assimilation framework for the assessment of volcanic unrest

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Active volcanoes pose a constant risk to populations living in their vicinity. Significant effort has been spent to increase monitoring and data collection campaigns to mitigate potential volcano disasters. To utilize these datasets to their fullest extent, a new generation of model-data fusion techniques is required that combine multiple, disparate observations of volcanic activity with cutting-edge modeling techniques to provide efficient assessment of volcanic unrest. The purpose of this paper is to develop a data assimilation framework for volcano applications. Specifically, the Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) is adapted to assimilate GPS and InSAR data into viscoelastic, time-forward, finite element models of an evolving magma system to provide model forecasts and error estimations. Since the goal of this investigation is to provide a methodological framework, our efforts are focused on theoretical development and synthetic tests to illustrate the effectiveness of the EnKF and its applicability in physical volcanology. The synthetic tests provide two critical results: (1) a proof of concept for using the EnKF for multi dataset assimilation in investigations of volcanic activity; and (2) the comparison of spatially limited, but temporally dense, GPS data with temporally limited InSAR observations for evaluating magma chamber dynamics during periods of volcanic unrest. Results indicate that the temporally dense information provided by GPS observations results in faster convergence and more accurate model predictions. However, most importantly, the synthetic tests illustrate that the EnKF is able to swiftly respond to data updates by changing the model forecast trajectory to match incoming observations. The synthetic results demonstrate a great potential for utilizing the EnKF model-data fusion method to assess volcanic unrest and provide model forecasts. The development of these new techniques provides: (1) a framework for future applications of rapid data assimilation and model development during volcanic crises; (2) a method for hind-casting to investigate previous volcanic eruptions, including potential eruption triggering mechanisms and precursors; and (3) an approach for optimizing survey designs for future data collection campaigns at active volcanic systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • Data assimilation
  • Ensemble Kalman Filter
  • Finite element model
  • GPS
  • InSAR
  • Volcano deformation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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