EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Regional-scale ground monitoring of 80 East African Rift volcanoes using Sentinel-1 SAR interferometry

Fabien Albino1, Juliet Biggs2, Milan Lazecký3, Yasser Maghsoudi3, and Samuel McGowan1
Fabien Albino et al.
  • 1Université Grenoble-Alpes, ISTerre, Earth Sciences, Grenoble, France (
  • 2COMET, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol, UK
  • 3COMET, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds, UK

Countries with low to lower-middle income have limited resources to deploy and maintain ground monitoring networks. In this context, satellite-based techniques such as Radar interferometry (InSAR) is a great solution for detecting volcanic ground deformation at regional-scale. With the launch in 2014 of Sentinel-1 mission, regional monitoring of volcanic unrest becomes easier as SAR data are freely available with a revisit time of 6-12 days. Here, we develop a tuned processing workflow to produce Sentinel-1 InSAR time series and to automatically detect volcanic unrest over 80 volcanic systems located along the East African Rift System (EARS). First, we show that the correction of atmospheric signals for the arid and low-elevation EARS volcanoes is less important than for other volcanic environments. For a 5-year times series (between Jan. 2015 and Dec. 2019), we show that statistically uncertainties in InSAR velocities are around 0.1 cm/yr, whereas uncertainties associated with the choice of reference pixel are typically 0.3–0.6 cm/yr. For the automatic detection, we found that volcanic unrest can be detected with high confidence in the case the cumulative displacements exceed three times the temporal noise (threshold of 3σ). Based on this criterion, our survey reveals ground unrest at 16 volcanic centres among the 38 volcanic centres showing historical evidence of eruptive or unrest activity. A large variety of processes causing deformation occurs in the EARS: (1) subsidence due to contraction of magma bodies at Alu-Dalafilla, Dallol, Paka and Silali; (2) subsidence due to lava flows compaction at Kone and Nabro; (3) subsidence due to fluid migration at Olkaria and Aluto or fault-fluids interactions at Haludebi and Gada Ale; (4) rapid inflation due to magma intrusions at Erta Ale and Fentale; (5) short-lived inflation of shallow reservoirs at Nabro and Suswa; (6) long-lived inflation of large magmatic systems at Corbetti, Tullu Moje and Dabbahu. Except Olkaria and Kone, all these volcanoes were identified as deforming by previous satellites missions (between late 90’s and early 2000), which is an indication of the persistence of activity over long-time scales (>10 years).  Finally, we fit the time series using simple functional forms and classify seven of the volcano time series as linear, six as sigmoidal and three as hybrid, enabling us to discriminate between steady deformation and short-term pulses of deformation. We found that the characteristics of the unrest signals are independent of the expected processes, which means that additional information (structural geology, seismicity, eruptive history and source modelling) will be necessary to characterize the processes causing the unrest. Our final objective will be to improve the transfer of this information to local scientists in Africa, which can be achieved by integrating our tools to an existing monitoring system and by developing web-platform where the InSAR products can be freely available.

How to cite: Albino, F., Biggs, J., Lazecký, M., Maghsoudi, Y., and McGowan, S.: Regional-scale ground monitoring of 80 East African Rift volcanoes using Sentinel-1 SAR interferometry, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-5609,, 2023.