Current Projects

Uturuncu Volcano, Bolivia – Dissecting a Zombie

When a volcano inflates, is it always magma on the move? This is the question at Uturuncu volcano in Bolivia. Uturuncu has been called a “zombie volcano” – even though it hasn’t erupted in over 250,000 years1, it has been deforming for at least the last 50 years2! So what’s driving the deformation? Is it an ascending diapir of melt3, magma intruding deep in the crust4, a magma mush reorganizing itself5, or even an ore body forming before our eyes6?

My research seeks to help answer these questions with the following research goals:

  • Track the evolution of the deformation signal by updating the InSAR time series
  • Analyze geophysical models of Uturuncu derived from gravity data collected in 2018, in concert with existing resistivity and tomography models, using “big data” analysis techniques to understand the shallow structure and hydrothermal system
  • Updated numerical modeling of the deformation source incorporating the updated InSAR time series and geophysical models.

Funding provided by a NASA FINESST grant (Patricia MacQueen) and grants from the NSF and NERC.

1Muir, D. D., Blundy, J. D., Rust, A. C., & Hickey, J. (2014). Experimental Constraints on Dacite Pre-eruptive Magma Storage Conditions beneath Uturuncu Volcano. Journal of Petrology, 55(4), 749–767.
2Gottsmann, J., Potro, R. del, & Muller, C. (2018). 50 years of steady ground deformation in the Altiplano-Puna region of southern Bolivia. Geosphere, 14(1), 65–73.
3Fialko, Y., & Pearse, J. (2012). Sombrero Uplift Above the Altiplano-Puna Magma Body: Evidence of a Ballooning Mid-Crustal Diapir. Science, 338(6104), 250–252.
4Henderson, S. T., & Pritchard, M. E. (2017). Time-dependent deformation of Uturuncu volcano, Bolivia, constrained by GPS and InSAR measurements and implications for source models. Geosphere, 13(6), 1–21.
5Gottsmann, J., Blundy, J., Henderson, S., Pritchard, M. E., & Sparks, R. S. J. (2017). Thermomechanical modeling of the Altiplano-Puna deformation anomaly: Multiparameter insights into magma mush reorganization. Geosphere, 13(4), 1042–1065.
6Blundy, J., Mavrogenes, J., Tattitch, B., Sparks, S., & Gilmer, A. (2015). Generation of porphyry copper deposits by gas–brine reaction in volcanic arcs. Nature Geoscience, 8(3), 235–240.