Remote sensing of subglacial eruptions in Iceland and development of related warning systems

Ulrich Münzer1, Thomas Bahr2
Institute of General and Applied Geology, University of Munich, Luisenstraße 37, 80333 München, Germany.
Tel. : 1+49-89-5203-417, 2+49-89-303-304, Fax: +49-89-5203-286,
E-mail: 1ulrich.muenzer@iaag.geo.uni-muenchen.de, 2thomas.bahr@iaag.geo.uni-muenchen.de

The recent subglacial eruptions in Iceland (October 1996) serve as an exemplary case to evolve effective methods for monitoring natural disasters and assessing the magnitude of their impact on the environment. Research objectives are the observation of the central volcanoes Grímsvötn-Báröarbunga (Vatnajökull), Katla (Mýrdalsjökull) and Hekla using multitemporal data obtained from ERS-1/2, RADARSAT, JERS-1, and Landsat-TM. In this context the ERS-1/2 Tandem Mission offers an unique opportunity to apply SAR interferometry to detect surface uplift or subsidence caused by magma movements within the threatened areas. The verification of the findings by ground truth comprises e.g. the installation of corner reflectors, the determination of surface roughness as well as geologic, geomorphologic and hydrogeologic investigations. The ultimate goal to be pursued is the establishment of an operable long-term monitoring system, in co-operation with Icelandic research institutions, to be employed for risk assessment, early prediction and damage mitigation.