A Caltech Library Service

Deformation during the 1975–1984 Krafla rifting crisis, NE Iceland, measured from historical optical imagery

Hollingsworth, James and Leprince, Sébastien and Ayoub, François and Avouac, Jean-Philippe (2012) Deformation during the 1975–1984 Krafla rifting crisis, NE Iceland, measured from historical optical imagery. Journal of Geophysical Research B, 117 (B11). Art. No. B11407. ISSN 0148-0227. doi:10.1029/2012JB009140.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


We measure the displacement field resulting from the 1975–1984 Krafla rifting crisis, NE Iceland, using optical image correlation. Images are processed using the COSI-Corr software package. Surface extension is accommodated on normal faults and fissures which bound the rift zone, in response to dike injection at depth. Correlation of declassified KH-9 spy and SPOT5 satellite images reveals extension between 1977–2002 (2.5 m average opening over 80 km), while correlation of aerial photos between 1957–1990 provide measurements of the total extension (average 4.3 m opening over 80 km). Our results show ∼8 m of opening immediately north of Krafla caldera, decreasing to 3–4 m at the northern end of the rift. Correlation of aerial photos from 1957–1976 reveal a bi-modal pattern of opening along the rift during the early crisis, which may indicate either two different magma sources located at either end of the rift zone (a similar pattern of opening was observed in the 2005 Afar rift crisis in East Africa), or variations in rock strength along the rift. Our results provide new information on how past dike injection events accommodate long-term plate spreading, as well as providing more details on the Krafla rift crisis. This study also highlights the potential of optical image correlation using inexpensive declassified spy satellite and aerial photos to measure deformation of the Earth's surface going back many decades, thus providing a new tool for measuring Earth surface dynamics, e.g. glaciers, landsliding, coastal erosion, volcano monitoring and earthquake studies, when InSAR and GPS data are not available.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Hollingsworth, James0000-0003-0122-296X
Leprince, Sébastien0000-0003-4555-8975
Ayoub, François0000-0002-7389-8400
Avouac, Jean-Philippe0000-0002-3060-8442
Additional Information:© 2012 American Geophysical Union. Received 9 January 2012; revised 16 September 2012; accepted 20 September 2012; published 14 November 2012. We thank the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Keck Institute for Space Studies for financial support. Arzan Surazakov provided helpful advice and discussion regarding orthorectification of KH-9 Hexagon data. The decision to look at displacement in the epipolar perpendicular direction was inspired by discussions with Renaud Binet. Bjarney Gudbjornsdottir and Carsten Kristinsson (National Land Survey of Iceland) were extremely helpful with locating and scanning all aerial photos used in this study. Tim Smith (USGS contractor working within Earth Resources Observation and Science, EROS Data Center) provided valuable assistance with scanning KH-9 spy satellite images. This work benefited from careful reviews by Amotz Agnon, and an anonymous reviewer. KH-9 data was obtained through the USGS EarthExplorer website. ASTER GDEM is a product of METI and NASA, and was obtained through the Reverb ECHO website. Níels Finsen of the Iceland Coast Guard kindly provided bathymetric data for the Axarfjördur region. Various aspects of this study benefited from discussions with Mark Simons, John Maclennan, Dan McKenzie, Gilles Peltzer, Sylvain Barbot, and Alex Copley. We are grateful to Heather Steele and Lisa Christiansen, who helped with ordering imagery and provided GIS support. All images in this study were processed using COSI-Corr, which is a plug-in for the ENVI software package. Various images in this paper were created using the ERDAS ERMapper software package, and the public domain Generic Mapping Tools (GMT) software [Wessel and Smith, 1998]. This is Tectonics Observatory contribution 210.
Group:Caltech Tectonics Observatory, Keck Institute for Space Studies, Seismological Laboratory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Gordon and Betty Moore FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Keck Institute for Space Studies (KISS)UNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
Caltech Tectonics Observatory210
Issue or Number:B11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130110-140710735
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Hollingsworth, J., S. Leprince, F. Ayoub, and J.-P. Avouac (2012), Deformation during the 1975–1984 Krafla rifting crisis, NE Iceland, measured from historical optical imagery, J. Geophys. Res., 117, B11407, doi:10.1029/2012JB009140.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:36304
Deposited On:11 Jan 2013 18:25
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:21

Repository Staff Only: item control page