Bulletin of Volcanology

, 75:724 | Cite as

Enhancement of sub-daily positioning solutions for surface deformation surveillance at El Hierro volcano (Canary Islands, Spain)

  • G. Prates
  • A. García
  • A. Fernández-Ros
  • J. M. Marrero
  • R. Ortiz
  • M. Berrocoso
Research Article


El Hierro Island in the Canary Archipelago recently experienced a submerged eruption a few kilometers off its southern shore, detected 2011 October 10 on the island’s south-rift alignment. The seismic activity suddenly increased around mid 2011 July, and ground deformation was then detected on the only geodetic benchmark that is continuously observed by global navigation satellite systems techniques and provides public data access. Based on that information, several other global navigation satellite system signal receivers were deployed on the island to provide continuous observation. For data collected by these receivers, a processing strategy was applied to achieve millimeter-level half-hourly positioning solutions. Position updates every 24 h are satisfactory to determine tectonic-plates’ velocities. Updates near 1 s or less are required to characterize seismic waves. In between, minute-level updates are well suited for monitoring active volcano's inflation or deflation, providing an optimal time resolution of the local ground deformation. In half-hourly positioning solutions, the heterogeneous satellites’ distribution in their orbital planes gives different constraints during satellite-constellation revolution, which can bias the solutions. Also, several geophysical influences can bias the solutions, including those related to gravitational movements. These influences have mostly semi-diurnal periodicities and may be considered Gaussian colored noise on the position’s time series. Daily solutions that average out these influences can be applied in active volcanoes, but they can impose some limitations because they average the daily deformation, and the update waiting time is not suitable when near real-time surveillance is mandatory. These semi-diurnal biases do need to be removed or minimized to achieve millimeter-level sub-daily positioning solutions, however, and to do so, a discrete Kalman filter was applied to enhance the half-hourly positioning solutions required during El Hierro’s 2011–2012 unrest and eruption. Throughout El Hierro’s volcanic activity, there were correlations between ground deformation and seismic activity. Many times the deformation preceded the earthquakes, though at other times the seismic activity was followed by the ground deformation response. This correlation is the outcome of ground deformation taking place as the result of energy accommodation, whereas seismic events correspond to energy release. Hence, those observed correlations indicate that the Kalman filter-enhanced half-hourly positioning solutions measured local ground deformation accurately; they were not a mathematical "trick" producing a spurious precision.


Volcano monitoring Satellite geodesy Kalman filter El Hierro 



This work was financially supported by the following research projects: VOLRESTE (CGL2008-03874/BTE) and GEOTINANT (CTM2009-07251/ANT) by the Spanish Ministry of Education and Science; PEVERTE (CGL2010-28682-C02-01) and VIVOLDEC (CTM2011-14936-E) by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness; and (201130E011) by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC). Also, the access to GNSS-GPS data from the Canary Islands is acknowledged to the Canarian Regional Government and the Spanish National Geographic Institute (IGN). Both the contributions of the Editors and of two anonymous reviewers are very much appreciated, which greatly helped to improve the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Prates
    • 1
    • 2
  • A. García
    • 3
  • A. Fernández-Ros
    • 1
  • J. M. Marrero
    • 4
  • R. Ortiz
    • 3
  • M. Berrocoso
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Astronomía, Geodesia y Cartografía, Facultad de CienciasUniversidad de CádizCádizSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Superior de EngenhariaUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  3. 3.Instituto de Geociencias (CSIC-UCM)Consejo Superior de Investigaciones CientíficasMadridSpain
  4. 4.TenerifeSpain

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