Evolution of the magma system at Makushin volcano, Alaska, from 2004 to 2021

Jiahui Wang, Zhong Lu, Patricia M. Gregg, Jin Woo Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Located in the northeast of Unalaska Island in the central part of the Aleutian, Alaska, Makushin volcano is one of the more active volcanoes in the United States, with the most recent eruption occurred in 1995. Pre-eruptive inflation and post-eruptive deflation were identified from 1993 to 1995 and 1996 to 2000, respectively, and were interpreted as volume changes associated with magma movement within the plumbing system. In this study, we investigate the surface deformation of Makushin from 2004 to 2021 to evaluate its present-day activity, using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) interferometry technique. SAR images acquired from C-band Envisat and Sentinel-1, X-band TerraSAR-X, and L-band ALOS-2 satellites are analyzed using an advanced multiple temporal Interferometric SAR (InSAR) algorithm. The produced deformation time series are then used to track the temporal evolution of the volcanic system with Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) assuming Mogi sources. The results show that Makushin is characterized by time-varying deformation episodes including quiescence, and inflation/deflation cycles at varied rates since 2004. The derived deformation histories can be well reproduced by a spatially stationary pressure source located to the east-northeast of the summit, at a depth about 6 km beneath the sea level (BSL). The inflation/deflation cycles with distinct temporal patterns are interpreted as results from volatile-dominated volume accumulation/loss in the magmatic reservoir. A secondary reservoir connected to the main magma chamber is revealed from the deformation time series. No surface displacement associated with the large earthquake swarm in 2020 is identified from the InSAR-derived deformation. The cumulative volume change in the magma reservoir is about −6×106m3 from 2004 to 2021, indicating a volume/pressure deficit in the magma plumbing system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number107991
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
StatePublished - Feb 2024


  • InSAR
  • Makushin Volcano
  • Secondary reservoir
  • Surface deformation
  • Surface erosion
  • Volatile

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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