Integration of micro-gravity and geodetic data to constrain shallow system mass changes at Krafla Volcano, N Iceland

de Zeeuw-van Dalfsen, Elske; Rymer, Hazel; Williams-Jones, Glyn; Sturkell, Erik and Sigmundsson, Freysteinn (2006). Integration of micro-gravity and geodetic data to constrain shallow system mass changes at Krafla Volcano, N Iceland. Bulletin of Volcanology, 68(5) pp. 420–431.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s0445-005-0018-5

Abstract

New and previously published micro-gravity data are combined with InSAR data, precise levelling and GPS measurements to produce a model for the processes operating at Krafla volcano, 20 years after its most recent eruption. The data have been divided into two periods: from 1990 to 1995 and from 1996 to 2003 and show that the rate of deflation at Krafla is decaying exponentially. The net micro-gravity change at the centre of the caldera is shown, using the measured Free Air Gradient, to be -85 μGal for the first and -100 μGal for the second period. After consideration of the effects of water extraction by the geothermal power station within the caldera, the net gravity decreases are -73 ± 17 μGal for the first and -65 ± 17 μGal for the second period. These decreases are interpreted in terms of magma drainage. Following a Mogi point source model we calculate the mass decrease to be ~2 x 1010 kg/yr reflecting a drainage rate of ~0.23 m3/s, similar to the ~0.13 m3/s drainage rate previously found at Askja volcano, N-Iceland. Based on the evidence for deeper magma reservoirs and the similarity between the two volcanic systems, we suggest a pressure-link between Askja and Krafla at deeper levels (at the lower crust or the crust-mantle boundary). After the Krafla fires, co-rifting pressure decrease of a deep source at Krafla stimulated the subsequent inflow of magma, eventually affecting conditions along the plate boundary in N-Iceland, as far away as Askja. We anticipate that the pressure of the deeper reservoir at Krafla will reach a critical value and eventually magma will rise from there to the shallow magma chamber, possibly initiating a new rifting episode. We have demonstrated that by examining micro-gravity and geodetic data, our knowledge of active volcanic systems can be significantly improved.

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