Can ERT reveal the dynamics of volcanic hydrothermal systems? (ERupT)

01 January 2022 → 31 December 2025
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Volcanology
    • Geology not elsewhere classified
    • Geophysics not elsewhere classified
Volcanic hydrothermal systems electrical properties applied geophysics monitoring
Project description

A large fraction of volcanic eruptions are related to hydrothermal phenomena and do not expel magma. These eruptions can take a heavy human toll through the ejection of pre-existing rocks, volcanic gases, and steam. Several recent catastrophic examples have highlighted our limitations to anticipate sudden hydrothermal explosions. These eruptions are challenging to predict because of the absence of clear precursory signals. They are hypothesized to be triggered either by the input of mass and energy originating from the magma or by the development of mineralogical seals above vents without any magmatic contribution. In this project, we investigate the dynamics of these volcano hydrothermal systems by observing their electrical response at 4 different scales. Through electrical resistivity imaging, a technique similar to medical imaging, we characterize the subsurface properties of volcanic hydrothermal systems: (i) at the laboratory scale for which we will combine electrical properties to X-ray pore-scale imaging to understand the electrical signature of volcanic system and (ii) simulate lab-scale analog systems, (iii) by monitoring geysers that are shallow predictable analogs and (iv) through the monitoring of an active volcanic-hydrothermal system, the latter allowing us to upscale laboratory results to field observations. Our project will assess the suitability of electrical resistivity to understand and even predict volcanic hydrothermal systems dynamics.