Spatial and temporal patterns of dome extrusion during the 2004-2008 eruption of Mount St. Helens

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Jacqueline T. Salzer1, Roger P Denlinger2, Angela K. Diefenbach2 and Thomas R Walter1, (1)Helmholtz Centre Potsdam GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Potsdam, Germany, (2)USGS, Cascades Volcano Observatory, Vancouver, WA, United States
Extensive efforts by the USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory in response to the 2004–2008 dome building eruption at Mount St. Helens recorded the extrusion of seven dacite spines. Efforts included a network of time-lapse cameras. Published studies of decimated data from these cameras show strong correlations between (long-term) extrusion velocities determined from the camera imagery and ancillary geophysical data, such as dome tilt and RSAM seismicity. However, more detailed analysis of these data should provide better constraints on physical processes behind dome extrusion.

Here we apply modern computer vision techniques to explore the spatiotemporal variability and interactions occurring during spine extrusion and dome growth. Digital Image Correlation (DIC) delineates the deformation field in a series of images at sub-pixel level, and quantifies dome, talus and glacier deformation at unprecedented resolution, revealing spatiotemporal variability of the strain field on the time scale of hours.

We identify sharp boundaries between the vertically extruding spine, laterally displaced material, and downward-creeping talus. The spine growth at Mount St. Helens appears locally constrained and structurally separated into distinct segments. The velocities of different dome segments are generally correlated, but displacement patterns of the talus are more complex. We identify short term fluctuations with periods of hours to days superimposed on longer term fluctuations having periods of several weeks. The short term episodes of high displacement rates are often associated with strongly degassing plumes observed in the camera imagery. Over longer periods (days to weeks), extrusion rates form a sinusoidal fluctuating pattern, marked by sharp increases and gradual decreases in velocity. These observations substantiate the correlations with seismic and geodetic data shown in previous studies, but more closely constrain the velocity fluctuations of each spine. These fluctuations are related to drag on the spine margins, as shown by seismicity and dome tilt. Comparison of our results with complementary data streams allows us to assess the role of meteorological, magmatic and internal processes on frictional resistance, and thus the extrusion velocities.