Steady downslope movement on the western flank of Arenal volcano, Costa Rica

S. K. Ebmeier, J. Biggs, T. A. Mather, G. Wadge, F. Amelung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The edifice of a volcano is a unique deformational environment, dependent not just on active volcanic processes but also on its composition, structure, and morphology. We measured the deformation of Volcn Arenal, Costa Rica, using interferograms constructed from both ALOS and RadarSat data between 2005 and 2009. The volcano's western flanks are moving downslope at an angle of ∼55° below the horizontal plane and a consistent rate of at least ∼7 cm/yr. We use the pattern, rate, and direction of motion to test several hypotheses for its origin. Our favored explanation is creep along a shallow sliding plane, most likely the interface between deposits postdating the 1968 lateral blast eruption and the older lavas and paleosoils beneath. Our measurement of slope movement adds to a small set of rate measurements for gravity-driven deformation at volcanoes and is distinctive in both its relatively high rate and shallow origin. Observation of deformation at Arenal contributes both to the assessment of particular hazards around Arenal itself and, more generally, to the study of the stability of young stratovolcanoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberQ12004
JournalGeochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Arenal
  • InSAR
  • deformation
  • volcano

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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