EGU22-9479, updated on 28 Mar 2022
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2022. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Current crustal movement in the East Eifel Volcanic Field – anthropogenic or volcanic?

Michael Frietsch1, Lidong Bie1,2, Joachim Ritter1, Andreas Rietbrock1, and Bernd Schmitt3
Michael Frietsch et al.
  • 1Geophysical Institute, Karlsruhe Intitute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany (
  • 2School of Environmental Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, United Kingdom
  • 3Landeserdbebendienst Rheinland-Pfalz, Landesamt für Geologie und Bergbau Rheinland-Pfalz, Mainz, Germany

Monitoring crustal movements is essential to volcanic hazard assessment in areas of active volcanism. These surface movements occur on a wide range of time scales and wavelengths. However, the origin of crustal movements is not always associated with volcanic activities, particularly in areas with rigorous human activities (i.e., ground water extraction). It is challenging yet critical to distinguish between the ongoing volcanic and anthropogenic activities. In this study, we focus on the East Eifel Volcanic Field, which consists of multiple active Quaternary volcanoes. We report areas of uplift and subsidence 2-3 km away from each other near the Laacher See volcanic crater (2-3 km distance), and investigate the mechanisms responsible for the reversed deformation in such close proximity.

PS-InSAR measurements by the BodenBewegungsdienst Deutschland (BBD) show notable ground displacements in this area for the period between 2014 and 2019. The deformation is clearly mapped by three different tracks of the Sentinel-1 satellite – two ascending and one descending, which confirms the robustness of the signal being detected by PS-InSAR. The main deformation is round in shape, and the rates peak up to 10 mm per year in line-of-sight (LOS) for the uplift area near the village Glees and reach down to -4 mm LOS for the subsidence zone in the vicinity of the village Wehr. To investigate the likely mechanism responsible for the ground displacements, we model the crustal movements with two spherical pressure point sources (i.e., the Mogi sources) simultaneously using a combined global and local optimization scheme. In the inversion, we search for the optimal combinations for a set of four parameters (latitude, longitude, depth and volume) for each Mogi source. The global optimization is achieved by Multi-Level Single-Linkage algorithm and we use the PRAXIS algorithm to find the local minimum. We include all three tracks of data, of which the different satellite viewing geometries help stabilize the inversion.

Our results show that the uplift trend in Glees can be explained by an additional volume of 13000 m³ per year at 530 m depth. The subsidence near Wehr can be best fitted by a decrease in volume of 1700 m³ per year at 340 m depth. The modelling results show a trade-off between depth and volume, however, the uncertainties are smaller for the subsidence source near Wehr. Residuals trending in SW-NE direction are observed at the Glees uplift area, and the relatively large parameter uncertainties for Glees uplift zone are likely due to sparse persistent scatters there. Given the shallow depth of the Mogi sources, we interpret the Glees uplift being predominantly associated with fluid refilling in the respective volume caused by former CO2 extraction. The subsidence around Wehr is linked to ongoing industrial CO2 extraction. Our study identifies anthropogenic factors that may cause ground deformation in an active volcanic region, and has implications for future volcanic hazard assessment.

How to cite: Frietsch, M., Bie, L., Ritter, J., Rietbrock, A., and Schmitt, B.: Current crustal movement in the East Eifel Volcanic Field – anthropogenic or volcanic?, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-9479,, 2022.