Combination of SAR remote sensing and GIS for monitoring subglacial volcanic activity – recent results from Vatnajökull ice cap (Iceland)
- 1Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Section Geology, Luisenstr. 37, 80333 Munich, Germany
- 2Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Section Geophysics, Theresienstrasse 41, 80333 Munich, Germany
- 3Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Commission for Glaciology, Alfons-Goppel Str. 11, 80539 Munich, Germany
- 4Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Section Mineralogy, Petrology and Geochemistry, Theresienstrasse 41, 80333 Munich, Germany
Abstract. This paper presents latest results from the combined use of SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) remote sensing and GIS providing detailed insights into recent volcanic activity under Vatnajökull ice cap (Iceland). Glaciers atop active volcanoes pose a constant potential danger to adjacent inhabited regions and infrastructure. Besides the usual volcanic hazards (lava flows, pyroclastic clouds, tephra falls, etc.), the volcano-ice interaction leads to enormous meltwater torrents (icelandic: jökulhlaup), devastating large areas in the surroundings of the affected glacier. The presented monitoring strategy addresses the three crucial questions: When will an eruption occur, where is the eruption site and which area is endangered by the accompanying jökulhlaup. Therefore, sufficient early-warning and hazard zonation for future subglacial volcanic eruptions becomes possible, as demonstrated for the Bardárbunga volcano under the northern parts of Vatnajökull. Seismic activity revealed unrest at the northern flanks of Bardárbunga caldera at the end of September 2006. The exact location of the corresponding active vent and therefore a potentially eruptive area could be detected by continuous ENVISAT-ASAR monitoring. With this knowledge a precise prediction of peri-glacial regions prone to a devastating outburst flood accompanying a possible future eruption is possible.