Hélène Le Mével
Staff Scientist

Helene Le Mevel

Research Interests

Volcano deformation; Geodetic data analysis (GPS, InSAR); Volcanic unrest; Gravimetry; Numerical modeling of magmatic processes.


B.S., Earth and Planetary Sciences, Université de Nantes, 2009
M.S., Geophysics, Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, 2011
Ph.D., Geophysics, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2016

Contact & Links

  • (202) 478-8842 | fax: (202) 478-8821
  • hlemevel at carnegiescience.edu
  • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
    Carnegie Institution of Washington
    5241 Broad Branch Road, NW
    Washington, DC 20015-1305
  • curriculum vitae
  • Publications


Helene Le Mevel
[modified after Le Mével et al. (2016)]. Modeled time series (black curve) of cumulative vertical displacement at Laguna del Maule for a point located at GPS station MAU2 (magenta asterisk on inset) from 2007 to 2014, as derived from InSAR data and assuming a model of magma injection starting in 2007 in an elastic domain. Grey dots are vertical displacement GPS time series for station MAU2. Inset: ALOS interferogram showing the uplift spatial pattern and spanning the 368 day time interval from 17 February 2009 to 20 February 2010. One cycle of phase denotes 118.1 mm of range change.

Hélène Le Mével’s research focuses on understanding the surface deformation signals observed at volcanoes to infer the ongoing magmatic processes occurring in the underlying reservoir. Toward this end she uses space and field-based geodesy to identify, model and interpret the ground deformation observed in volcanic areas.

Interferometric Synthetic Aperture Radar (InSAR) and data from the Global Positioning System (GPS) allows her to characterize ground motion during volcanic unrest. In addition, gravity data indicate changes in mass and/or density underground. In combination with the surface deformation data sets they are very useful to interpret the volume/pressure change results in terms of magma dynamics. 

In her Ph.D. research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison she used GPS and InSAR data to study the ongoing unrest started in 2007 at Laguna del Maule volcanic field in Chile and characterized by high rates of uplift. Using time series analysis she revealed a nonlinear temporal evolution of the uplift, modeled as the injection of new magma into a large reservoir at depth.

At DTM she is developing numerical models to investigate the magmatic processes responsible for the deformation measured at large silicic systems both on the decadal (“geodetic”) timescale and the geological timescale of thousands of years. These multiphysics models will allow her to consider the evolving physical processes occurring in the magma chamber (e.g. injection of new magma, cooling, crystallization, gas exsolution), thereby considering deformation episodes as observed today in the framework of the complete volcanic cycle. She plans to apply these models coupling multiphase magma dynamics and crustal deformation to a variety of volcanic systems and tectonic settings.