Earth and Planetary Sciences ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 5-1-2023


Deformation at volcanos is often a precursor to an eruption, but sometimes volcanos experience uplift without actually erupting. Determining the mechanisms behind this deformation and whether it will lead to an eruption is an important part of understanding volcanic systems. Uturuncu volcano in Bolivia has been experiencing deformation for decades, but the last time it erupted was 250,000 years ago. The reason behind this deformation is unknown, but one possible cause is volatiles moving into the hydrothermal system and getting trapped, causing the volume to increase and the surface to uplift. To test this hypothesis, the current volume change of Uturuncu’s hydrothermal system was calculated using Interferometric Synthetic Aperature Radar (InSAR) data from the region. TOUGH3, a numerical modeling software, was then used to determine the volume change of the system with varying inputs of CO2 and H2O. With this information, it was determined that CO2 injection could potentially cause the recent uplift of 2-3 mm/yr at Uturuncu. However, a few decades ago, Uturuncu was uplifting at a rate of 1 cm/yr and modeling shows that there is not enough gas in the system to support injecting sufficient CO2 to cause this level of surface deformation. Thus, something else was likely causing this 1 cm/yr uplift, such as magma injection.

Degree Name

Earth and Planetary Sciences

Level of Degree


Department Name

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

First Committee Member (Chair)

Tobias Fischer

Second Committee Member

Eric Lindsey

Third Committee Member

Brandon Schmandt

Fourth Committee Member

Patricia Nadeau




Deformation, InSAR, TOUGH3, hydrothermal system, CO2 flux, numerical modeling

Document Type


Included in

Volcanology Commons