TerraSAR-X interferometry reveals small-scale deformation associated with the summit eruption of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i


Corresponding author: N. Richter, Department of Earth Observation, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Jena, Germany. Current address: Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ), Department 2 - Physics of the Earth. (nrichter@gfz-potsdam.de)


[1] On 19 March 2008, a small explosive eruption at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano, Hawai‘i, heralded the formation of a new vent along the east wall of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. In the ensuing years, the vent widened due to collapses of the unstable rim and conduit wall; some collapses impacted an actively circulating lava pond and resulted in small explosive events. We used synthetic aperture radar data collected by the TerraSAR-X satellite, a joint venture between the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and EADS Astrium, to identify and analyze small-scale surface deformation around the new vent during 2008–2012. Lidar data were used to construct a digital elevation model to correct for topographic phase, allowing us to generate differential interferograms with a spatial resolution of about 3 m in Kīlauea's summit area. These interferograms reveal subsidence within about 100 m of the rim of the vent. Small baseline subset time series analysis suggests that the subsidence rate is not constant and, over time, may provide an indication of vent stability and potential for rim and wall collapse—information with obvious hazard implications. The deformation is not currently detectable by other space- or ground-based techniques.