Hindcasting Magma Reservoir Stability Preceding the 2008 Eruption of Okmok, Alaska

J. A. Albright, P. M. Gregg, Z. Lu, J. T. Freymueller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Volcanic eruptions pose a significant and sometimes unpredictable hazard, especially at systems that display little to no precursory signals. For example, the 2008 eruption of Okmok volcano in Alaska notably lacked observable short-term precursors despite years of low-level unrest. This unpredictability highlights that direct monitoring alone is not always enough to reliably forecast eruptions. In this study, we use the Ensemble Kalman Filter (EnKF) to produce a successful hindcast of the Okmok magma system in the lead up to its 2008 eruption. By assimilating geodetic observations of ground deformation, finite element models track the evolving stress state of the magma system and evaluate its stability using mechanical failure criteria. The hindcast successfully indicates an increased eruption likelihood due to tensile failure weeks in advance of the 2008 eruption. The effectiveness of this hindcast illustrates that EnKF-based forecasting methods may provide critical information on eruption probability in systems lacking obvious precursors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8801-8808
Number of pages8
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number15
StatePublished - Aug 16 2019


  • Aleutians
  • Geodesy
  • data assimilation
  • finite element method
  • geodynamics
  • volcanic hazards

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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