This award, provided by the Antarctic Geology and Geophysics Program of the Office of Polar Programs, supports continuation and expansion of the volcano monitoring program on Mount Erebus, Antarctica. Mount Erebus, Antarctica 's most active volcano, is a rare example of a persistently active magmatic system. The volcano has a history of low-level eruptive activity associated with a highly accessible summit vent complex, and features one of Earth 's few long-lived lava lakes. This project will develop an interdisciplinary geophysics/geochemistry laboratory on Mount Erebus, for the purpose of pursuing basic research on the eruption physics and associated magmatic recharge of active volcanoes. Erebus is especially appropriate for this goal because of its persistent open-conduit magmatic system, frequent eruptions, logistical ease of access (by Antarctic standards), established scientific and logistical infrastructure, including real-time data links, and relative safety. Key integrated data gathering components for this work include video surveillance, seismic, infrasound, Doppler radar, infrared, volcanic gas, and geodetic studies. This project is a renewal of the NSF-supported "Mount Erebus Volcano Observatory" (MEVO) and benefits significantly from an underway instrumentation development award (Major Research Instrumentation award MRI-0116577, "Development of Integrated Seismic, Geodetic, and Volcanic Gas Surveillance Instrumentation for Volcanic Research ", to develop and deploy integrated low-power, low cost, real-time-telemetered volcano monitoring stations at Erebus and on other active volcanoes.

The intellectual merit of this activity includes developing quantitative models of the magmatic system of an active volcano constrained by interdisciplinary methods, including the fundamental issues of eruptive energy balance (gravity, explosive gas decompression, thermal, seismic, acoustic, and kinetic components), and magma recharge (volcanic tremor, convection, residence time, gas emissions, deformation). This project will bring the aforementioned host of data collection activities to bear on these processes using a combination of core MEVOLab-supported personnel and their students (with specialties in seismology, gas studies, and general volcanology) and partially independently supported and internationally recognized volcano researchers (with specialties in infrared, Doppler radar, gas studies, and infrasound).

The broader scientific impact of this research is to contribute substantially to fundamental knowledge of the basic processes of diverse active volcanoes worldwide. MEVOLab, in association with the aforementioned MRI project, would also contribute to the modernization, diversi?cation, and novel application of modern instrumentation on volcanoes worldwide (many volcanoes, particularly in the developing world, have little or no modern instrumentation), and in the development of low-power, low cost interdisciplinary geophysical observatories within the larger seismology, geodesy and other geophysical communities. Further broad impacts include the education of graduate and undergraduate students in volcanology and geophysics, the dissemination of information to high-school audiences in association with the Teachers Experiencing Antarctica program, and providing timely year-round monitoring information to NSF and to McMurdo operations. Finally, this work would continue public outreach through lectures, media interaction, and in responding to inquiries from the general public to convey the excitement, science, and societal relevance of volcanology and general Earth science.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Polar Programs (PLR)
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Vladimir O. Papitashvili
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New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
United States
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