Links between volcanic activity and flank creep behavior at Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Magmatism is a recognized potential driver of volcanic flank instability. Recently, this driver was identified at Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala, where a large eruption in 2014 accelerated southwest flank creep. This work investigates the links between flank creep and eruptive behavior at Pacaya to better understand the conditions under which flank creep can be initiated, sustained, or halted at active volcanoes. Time-series of surface displacements from 2007 to 2020 computed using seven Synthetic Aperture Radar datasets are compared with volcanic activity reports, ash advisories, thermal anomalies, and lava flow maps. We find that large transient flank instabilities occurred during vigorous eruptions in 2010 and 2014, but not during times of similarly elevated activity in 2007–2009 and 2018–2020. Flank creep continued years after the two transient instability events, during the relatively quiescent intervals of 2010–2014 and 2015–2018. During periods of elevated volcanic unrest attributed to open-vent volcanic activity, as in 2007–2009 and 2018–2020, magma migrates in an open conduit with little associated deformation or flank motion. Conversely, the opening of new vents outside the summit area, irrespective of whether this marks the start or a transition in an eruption, can initiate transient flank creep as in 2010 and 2014. Thus, future opening of new magma pathways, particularly in a north-northwest to south-southeast alignment, might provide forewarning for an increased likelihood of renewed or accelerating flank creep at Pacaya.

This version of the article has been accepted for publication, after peer review (when applicable) and is subject to Springer Nature’s AM terms of use, but is not the Version of Record and does not reflect post-acceptance improvements, or any corrections. The Version of Record is available online at:



Work Title Links between volcanic activity and flank creep behavior at Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala
Open Access
  1. Judit Gonzalez-Santana
  2. Christelle Wauthier
  3. Michelle Burns
  1. InSAR
  2. Time-series analysis
  3. Remote sensing
  4. Volcano geodesy
  5. Flank instability
  6. Lava flow mapping
License In Copyright (Rights Reserved)
Work Type Article
  1. Bulletin of Volcanology
Publication Date August 9, 2022
Publisher Identifier (DOI)
Deposited January 26, 2023




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Work History

Version 1

  • Created
  • Added Gonzalez_2022_BUVO-D-21-00147_R1.pdf
  • Added Creator Judit Gonzalez-Santana
  • Added Creator Christelle Wauthier
  • Added Creator Michelle Burns
  • Published
  • Updated Keyword, Publication Date Show Changes
    • InSAR, Time-series analysis, Remote sensing, Volcano geodesy, Flank instability, Lava flow mapping
    Publication Date
    • 2022-09-01
    • 2022-08-09
  • Updated