Conditions for detection of ground deformation induced by conduit flow and evolution

Abstract : At mature andesitic volcanoes, magma can reach the surface through the same path for several eruptions thus forming a volcanic conduit. Because of degassing, cooling, and crystallization, magma viscosity increase in the upper part of the conduit may induce the formation of a viscous plug. We conducted numerical simulations to quantify the deformation field caused by this plug emplacement and evolution. Stress continuity between Newtonian magma flow and elastic crust is considered. Plug emplacement causes a ground inflation correlated to a decrease of the magma discharge rate. A parametric study shows that surface displacements depend on three dimensionless numbers: the conduit aspect ratio (radius/length), the length ratio between the plug and the conduit, and the viscosity contrast between the plug and the magma column. Larger displacements are obtained for high-viscosity plugs emplaced in large aspect ratio conduits. We find that only tiltmeters or GPS located close to the vent (a few hundred meters) might record the plug emplacement. At immediate proximity of the vent, plug emplacement might even dominate the deformation signal over dome growth or magma reservoir pressurization effects. For given plug thicknesses and viscosity profiles, our model explains well the amplitude of tilt variations (from 1 to 25 mu rad) measured at Montserrat and Mt. St. Helens. We also demonstrate that at Montserrat, even if most of the tilt signal is due to shear stress induced by magma flow, pressurization beneath the plug accounts for 20% of the signal.
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F. Albino, Virginie Pinel, H. Massol, M. Collombet. Conditions for detection of ground deformation induced by conduit flow and evolution. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2011, 116, pp.B06201. ⟨10.1029/2010jb007871⟩. ⟨ird-00607732⟩

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