Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Charles B. Connor

Co-Major Professor

Rocco Malservisi


Concepción volcano, Gravity anomaly, Lahar, Nicaragua, Surface deformation, Time-series analysis


Concepción is the most active composite volcano in Nicaragua, and is located on Ometepe Island, within Lake Nicaragua. Moderate to small volcanic explosions with a volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of 1-2 have been characteristic of this volcano during the last four decades. Although its current activity is not violent, its volcanic deposits reveal stages of violent activity involving Plinian and sub-Plinian eruptions that deposited vast amounts of volcanic tephra in the Atlantic Ocean. These observations, together with the 31,000 people living on the island, make Concepción volcano an important target for volcanological research.

My research focuses on the investigation of the stability of the volcano edifice of Concepción, using geophysical data such as gravity, geodetic global positioning system (GPS), sulphur dioxide (SO2) flux, real-time seismic amplitude (RSAM), and satellite remotely-sensed data. The integration of these data sets provides information about the short-term behavior of Concepción, and some insights into the volcano's long-term behavior.

This study has provided, for the first time, information about the shallow dynamics of Concepción on time scales of days to weeks. I furnish evidence that this volcano is not gravitationally spreading in a continuous fashion as previously thought, that its bulk average density is comparable to that of a pile of gravel, that the volcano edifice is composed of two major distinctive lithologies, that the deformation field around the volcano is recoverable in a matter of days, and that the deformation source is located in the shallow crust. This source is also degassing through the relatively open magmatic conduit. There are, however, several remaining questions. Although the volcano is not spreading continuously there is the possibility that gravitational spreading may be taking place in a stick-slip fashion. This has important implications for slope stability of the volcano, and the

associated hazards. The factors influencing the long term slope stability of the volcano are still not fully resolved, but internal volcanic processes and anthropogenic disturbances appear to be the major factors.