Our research focuses on developing methods to analyze volcano-hydrothermal systems and on the application of these methods to particular volcanic systems in the western United States. Specific research questions include (1) What are the modes of heat and mass transport from magma to the shallow subsurface? (2) What are the pressure, temperature, and fluid-saturation conditions between magma and the land surface? (3) What controls the permeability of volcanoes? How does it vary in space and time? What role do temporal variations in permeability play in the evolution of volcanogenic hydrothermal systems and episodes of volcanic unrest? (4) How well-coupled are various fluid flow, transport, and mechanical deformation processes? (5) What is the interplay between groundwater transients, seismicity, and volcanic activity at various timescales?
Our project is unusual among NRP projects in that it has been funded by thrust programs traditionally housed in another former USGS Discipline – including all salary, common-services burden, and OE. Thus a bit of historical perspective may be useful. Since its inception in 1973, our project has been funded through interdisciplinary thrust programs, with an emphasis that has evolved from geothermal resource assessment (under the former Geothermal Research Program) to mitigation of volcanic hazards (under the current Volcano Hazards Program). Through the late 1980s the project had a heavy emphasis on research related to resource assessment, with a particular focus on the Basin and Range and Cascade Range provinces. As the program gradually re-oriented towards volcano-related public-safety issues, our project began to emphasize topical research relevant to volcanic processes such as geysering (Science, 1993; JGR, 1996; GRL, 2003; Geology, 2008; also many recent papers by my colleague Shaul Hurwitz), ground-water flow near cooling plutons (GRL, 1994; JGR, 1997; JGR, 2003; RoG, 2010), and volcano seismicity (EPSL, 2005). We also placed an increasing emphasis on fieldwork on active volcanoes such as Kilauea (e.g. WRR, 1996; JGR, 2002; JGR, 2003; GRL, 2003; GRC Bulletin, 2003), the Three Sisters (GRL, 2002; Geology, 2004; Geofluids, in review), and Yellowstone (JVGR, 2007; Elements, 2008; Geology, 2008; G3, 2012; JGR, 2012; GRL, 2013). At the same time, we extended numerical models originally developed for geothermal-reservoir simulation to describe phenomena such as water-table position in stratovolcanoes (JGR, 2003) and the coupling between hydrothermal-fluid dynamics and crustal deformation (JGR, 2007; JGR, 2009). Our overall research focus shifted from one-time “snapshots” of volcanic systems towards active monitoring that can potentially complement other ongoing geophysical data streams (e.g. seismicity and geodesy) (JVGR, 2001; JVGR, 2007; JVGR, 2010; Geofluids, in review). Over the last several years we have again received substantial funding from the revitalized USGS Geothermal Program, which is housed in the Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health Mission Area. The funding from the Volcano Hazards and Geothermal Programs is complementary, because the programs share an interest in hydrothermal systems.
See also: Hydrothermal Monitoring Data from the Cascade Range
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