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Satellite observations of fumarole activity at Aluto volcano, Ethiopia: implications for geothermal monitoring and volcanic hazard

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Author(s)

Mathilde Braddock, Juliet Biggs, Iain M. Watson, William Hutchison, David M. Pyle, Tamsin A. Mather

Abstract

Fumaroles are the surface manifestation of hydrothermal circulation and can be influenced by magmatic, hydrothermal, hydrological and tectonic processes. This study investigates the temporal changes in fumarole temperatures and spatial extent on Aluto, a restless volcano in the Main Ethiopian Rift (MER), in order to better understand the controls on fluid circulation and the interaction between the magmatic and hydrothermal systems. Thermal infrared (TIR) satellite images, acquired by the Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection radiometer (ASTER) over the period of 2004 to 2016, are used to generate time series of the fumarole temperatures and areas. The thermal anomalies identified in the ASTER images coincide with known fumaroles with temperatures > 80 °C and are located on or close to fault structures, which provide a pathway for the rising fluids. Most of the fumaroles, including those along the major zone of hydrothermal upwelling, the Artu Jawe Fault Zone, have pixel-integrated temperature variations of only ~ 2 ± 1.5 °C. The exception are the Bobesa fumaroles located on a hypothesised caldera ring fault which show pixel-integrated temperature changes of up to 9 °C consistent with a delayed response of the hydrothermal system to precipitation. We conclude that fumaroles along major faults are strongly coupled to the magmatic-hydrothermal system and are relatively stable with time, whereas those along shallower structures close to the rift flank are more strongly influenced by seasonal variations in groundwater flow. The use of remote sensing data to monitor the thermal activity of Aluto provides an important contribution towards understanding the behaviour of this actively deforming volcano. This method could be used at other volcanoes around the world for monitoring and geothermal exploration.
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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-83
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume341
Early online date12 May 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2017

    Research areas

  • Temperature, Fumaroles, Aluto, Main Ethiopian rift, Aster

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