Research Title: Thermo-mechanical modelling of the shallow magmatic body at Krafla
At the origin of the Etna dynamics: insight on the volcano behavior by integrating in-situ and satellite-based (deformation/geophysical/volcanological) measurements

Alejandra Vásquez Castillo

Alejandra Vásquez Castillo

Alejandra Vásquez Castillo

Nationality: Colombian
Institution: Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia
Country: Italy
Research Title: At the origin of the Etna dynamics: insight on the volcano behavior by integrating in-situ and satellite-based (deformation/geophysical/volcanological) measurements


Mt. Etna is one of the best monitored and studied volcanoes worldwide. Its continuous activity and good accessibility facilitate conducting advanced studies to test new theories and implement new technologies. Despite this vast and continuously updated knowledge some crucial questions are still pending: how does the magma rise from the mantle to the surface? What is the structure of plumbing system? Does the regional/local stress field influence the magma uprising and/or the volcanic activity? Are the flank dynamics the cause or the effect of the volcanic activity?
Therefore, the goal of this research is to implement a formal system of interpretations of volcanological processes that are logically linked and lead to a coherent conceptual model of Mt. Etna’s structure and behavior. This main goal implies constraining the structure and dynamics of the active plumbing system and the shallow volcano edifice at Mt. Etna, as well as analyzing high-frequency GNSS and other geodetic data and evaluating their extended use to intermediate frequencies (i.e., between the seismic and the geodetic realms) to explore unknown or poorly known processes (in cooperation with ESRs #2, 8, 10 and 14). The approach includes, among others, the integration of in-situ (GNSS, tilt) and satellite (InSAR) ground deformation data and the analysis of high-frequency GNSS and tilt data as well as a comparison with broadband seismic data.

Scientific Background

I completed a degree in Cadastral and Geodetic Engineering at the University Francisco José de Caldas in Bogotá, Colombia. Building upon a mathematical-physical background this program provided me with the opportunity to learn about the discipline of geoscience. During my studies, I worked with geodetic surveying techniques as well as satellite image processing and interpretation. During this time, I developed a keen interest in geophysical data acquisition, processing, and interpretation. I got the opportunity to conduct gravity surveys for my undergraduate thesis, gaining expertise not just with field work but also with data management and analysis. After completing my degree, I began to work for the Colombian Geological Survey, where I worked on the calculation and mapping of gravity anomalies of Colombia based on satellite data. I also carried out fieldwork performing gravimetric surveys to investigate mud volcanism. Following this professional experience I moved to Germany to undertake the master’s program in Geophysics at the University of Hamburg. My background in both geodesy and geophysics has lead me to the field of volcanic geodesy and sparked my interest in studying the changing sizes and shapes of volcanoes. Therefore, in my master’s thesis I dealt with the measurement and analysis of ground deformation in two specific volcanic regions, Reykjanes (Iceland) and Sakurajima (Japan), using Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and GNSS data.
My research interest therefore focuses on better understanding the nature of subterranean processes by using geodetic tools such as GNSS and InSAR to identify and characterize surface deformation. Since such deformation is often linked to volcanic and tectonic processes, I am interested in the modeling of ground deformation in order to estimate the location, geometry and dynamic of its sources.

Activity Record

Data (from)Data (to)TypeTitleVenue
6/11/20226/16/2022SchoolGeothermal and Magmatic SystemsLaugar, Reykjadalur, North Iceland
6/17/20227/3/2022Multiparametric ExperimentKrafla multiparametric experimentKrafla, Iceland
1/21/20231/23/2023Specialized Short CourseSeismology and ImagingISTerre, Grenoble, France
3/27/20233/29/2023Specialized Short CourseVolcano GeodesyBristol, UK
5/15/20235/19/2023SchoolGeophysical data inversion and numerical forward modellingCarlingford, Ireland (online)
7/24/20237/28/2023SchoolMultiparametric Volcano Monitoring: Data Processing, Analysis and ModellingNicolosi (Sicily), Italy
7/23/20238/2/2023Multiparametric ExperimentEtna multiparametric experimentMount Etna (Sicily), Italy
11/25/202211/25/2022TrainingEuropean Plate Observing System - EPOS Users Test MeetingINGV Roma
2/9/20232/9/2023Digital Training Module
How to write your first paper and get it published
8/21/20238/25/2023Specialized Short CourseInSAR Processing & Analysis (ISCE+) Short CourseOnline
6/2/20238/29/2023WorkshopIRIS 2023 Seismology Skill Building WorkshopOnline

Data (from)Data (to)TypeVenueTitleDescription
5/17/20225/17/2022Field TripMount Etna (Sicily), ItalyEtna Pizzi Deneri Field TripVisit to the Etna Pizzi Deneri Observatory
11/9/202211/10/2022Field TripNapoli, ItalyIMPROVE on the Neapolitan VolcanoesExcursion to Vesuvius and Campi Flegrei.
5/30/20236/23/2023SecondmentUniversity of IcelandSecondment at University of IcelandOne-month secondment in Iceland on high-rate GNSS processing and analytical modeling of InSAR-observed deformation data