Detection of displacements on Tenerife Island, Canaries, using radar interferometry


Now at: Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada


Tenerife is one of the most well monitored islands of the Canaries, but the surveillance generally is centred on Las Cañadas Caldera, where the Teide volcano is located. In the last 180 000 yr, the eruptions on Tenerife Island have never occurred in the same volcanic structure, except for the Teide and Pico Viejo central volcanic system, so that a complete monitoring network would have to cover the whole island. As a result, Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (InSAR) is being used on Tenerife, because this space technique can provide a displacement map of the surface of the earth with centimetre precision. This paper presents the results obtained on Tenerife Island using 18 SAR images acquired by the ERS-1 and ERS-2 satellites during the period 1992–2000. Two important results have been obtained: no deformation on Las Cañadas Caldera, coinciding with results obtained using terrestrial techniques, and two subsidence episodes outside monitoring areas in the NW of the island, in the region of the last historic eruptions. These results show that InSAR is a useful technique for monitoring the entire island, thus allowing us to discover deformations in areas that are not routinely or easily monitored. This technique has been used in combination with Global Positioning System (GPS) observation of a global network on the island to define a new geodetic monitoring system. The possible causes of the deformations observed have been studied in an endeavour to discern if they might be of natural origin, in particular linked to a reactivation of prior volcanic activity. Examination of the geophysical observations on the island, human activities underway and the results of the modelling seem to indicate that at least part of the deformations may be caused by changes in the groundwater level and therefore are not linked to a volcanic reactivation. This result is important because it implies that, if geodetic volcano monitoring is to be performed on the island, the system used must be capable of discerning between various possible origins of the deformation by analysing their patterns and ancillary information from other sources. In this regard, InSAR is a basic tool on account of its unpaired wide area coverage and spatial density.