Modeling Magma System Evolution During 2006–2007 Volcanic Unrest of Atka Volcanic Center, Alaska

Yan Zhan, Patricia M. Gregg, Zhong Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Surface deformation and seismicity provide critical information to understand the dynamics of volcanic unrest. During 2006–2007, >80 mm/yr uplift was observed by interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) at the central Atka volcanic center, Alaska, coinciding with an increasing seismicity rate. On November 25, 2006, a phreatic eruption occurred at the Korovin volcanic vent, 5-km north of the central Atka, following the drainage of its crater lake a month prior to the eruption. The InSAR data are assimilated into three-dimensional finite element models using the Ensemble Kalman Filter to investigate: (1) the pressure source creating the surface deformation; (2) the triggering of the volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquakes in the Atka volcanic center; and (3) the triggering of the phreatic eruption at Korovin. The models show that the pressure source required to create the surface deformation is a NE-tilted, oblate ellipsoid, which rotated from steep to gentle dipping from June to November 2006 before the eruption. The modeled dilatancy in a pre-existing weak zone, coinciding with the Amlia-Amukta fault, driven by the pressure source has a spatial and temporal correlation with the evolution of the VT earthquakes during the unrest. The fault dilatancy may have increased the connected porosity and permeability of the fault zone allowing fluid injection which triggered the observed seismicity. In addition, the dilatated fault may have increased the fluid capacity of the fault zone by ∼105 m3, causing the discharge of the crater lake at Korovin. Consequently, the phreatic eruption of the Korovin volcano may have been triggered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2020JB020158
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2021


  • failure
  • numerical modeling
  • permeability
  • seismicity
  • stress
  • volcanic unrest

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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