Geological Society of London
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Chapter 14 Continuous and campaign-style gravimetric investigations on Montserrat 2006 to 2009

posted on 2016-06-21, 11:31 authored by Stefanie Hautmann, Joachim Gottsmann, Antonio G. Camacho, Michel Van Camp, Nicolas Fournier

Gravimetric time series can provide vital clues about subsurface dynamics associated with active volcanism. Here, we report on continuous and campaign-style gravimetric observations on Montserrat between 2006 and 2009. More than 240 days of continuous gravimetric records enabled us to derive a first local joint solid Earth tides and ocean loading model for Montserrat, and we report the tidal harmonics for 14 major wave groups. Compared to global predictions, the new model (MTY11) achieves an up to one order of magnitude better precision over diurnal and semi-diurnal frequencies. We anticipate that the model will help reduce the effects of tidal perturbations on other geodetic time series recorded on Montserrat. Abrupt variations in gravity accompanied Vulcanian explosions and probably reflect the response of a shallow aquifer to stress changes during pressurization and depressurization of the subvolcanic plumbing system.

Campaign data enabled the quantification of mass variations during a cycle of activity including dome formation and repose. Both forward and inverse modelling of the spatio-temporal time series indicates that the source of the recorded gravity variations is situated beneath central Montserrat. Our favourite interpretation of the campaign data is that the gravity variations reflect volcano-tectonic interaction beneath the Centre Hills of Montserrat that are triggered by changes in the active magmatic system of Soufrière Hills Volcano (SHV). We also discuss our findings on subsurface mass variations in relation to annual precipitation records and active dome formation. Both continuous and discrete gravimetric observations indicate coupling between the dominant magmatic sources responsible for the ongoing eruption at SHV and shallow-seated local sources such as aquifers and fluid-saturated fault-damage zones. Our investigations demonstrate the value of including gravimetric observations over a wide frequency range for volcanic system characterization in a volcanic island arc setting.