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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The estimation of the volume of volcanic flows during an ongoing eruption is challenging but this information is crucial for improving risk assessment and for forecasting future events. Although previous studies have shown the ability of TanDEM-X satellite data to derive the thickness and the volume of lava flow fields during effusive eruptions, the method has not been explored yet for pyroclastic flows. Using bi-static interferometry, we produce TanDEM-X DEM on Fuego volcano (Guatemala) to measure the significant topographic changes caused by the 3rd June 2018 eruption, which destroyed the town of San Miguel Los Lotes. We estimate the volume of the Pyroclastic Density Currents (PDCs) to be 15.1 ± 4.2 × 106 m3. The deposits are likely to be the source of lahars during future rainy seasons. We identify the main channel of deposition (positive elevation changes) and the source region of pyroclastic material, areas of significant substrate erosion, and vegetation destruction (negative elevation changes). Our results show that the June 3rd 2018 pyroclastic flow was predominantly composed of material which had gravitationally collapsed from a location close to the vent. The eroded material increased the volume of the flow (bulking) and likely caused the run-out distance of the 2018 PDC to be larger than previous eruptions (1999–2017). This study highlights the potential of remote sensing techniques for actively monitoring topography changes in inaccessible locations and to rapidly derive deposit volumes.

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© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. Publisher’s version of record:

Publication Title

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


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