COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: Magma Reservoir-Conduit Dynamics Revealed by Borehole Geophysical Observatory and Continuous GPS

Project: Research project

Project Details




The ongoing eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano (SHV) on Montserrat provides an unprecedented opportunity to investigate complex magmatic processes at an andesitic volcano. Growth of the lava dome has been unsteady and accompanied by cyclic patterns of ground deformation, seismicity, and explosive eruptions. The cycles include a short-term scale (6-18 hour), a meso-term scale (~7 weeks), and a long-term scale (~30 y). They provide insights into eruption dynamics at andesite volcanoes, with the short-term cycles suggesting that degassing, rheological stiffening of the magma, and pressurization in the upper conduits are coupled and control many of the geophysical and dynamical phenomena observed. The meso- and long- term cycles may reflect deep-seated processes involving the magma reservoir. This project will investigate the dynamics of the full system using an integrated array of specialized instruments in four strategically located 200-m boreholes, and several shallower holes, surrounding SHV. The system is active and dynamic and will remain so for the foreseeable future. Analysis of the continuous perishable data provided by these instruments should provide important new insights and specific constraints to theoretical models, involving the dynamic behavior of the andesite magmatic system.

This is a collaborative project involving P.I.s from Penn State University, Carnegie Institution of Washinton, University of Arkansas, in collaboration with Montserrat Volcano Obervatory (MVO) and scientists from Bristol and Leeds Universities in the UK. The UK investigators have been funded to share drilling costs and to support UK scientific analyses. The expertise, facilities, and database of MVO also provide cost-share contributions.


Effective start/end date4/15/023/31/06


  • National Science Foundation: $615,691.00


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