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Magma injections and destabilization of basaltic volcanoes : A numerical study : Application to La Reunion (Indian ocean, France) and Stromboli (Tyrrhenian sea, Italy)

Abstract : Most basaltic volcanoes are affected by recurrent lateral instabilities during their evolution. Numerous factors have been shown to be involved in the process of flank destabilization occurring over long periods of time or by instantaneous failures. However, the role of these factors on the mechanical behaviour and stability of volcanic edifices is poorly-constrained as lateral failure usually results from the combined effects of several parameters. Our study focuses on the morphological and structural comparison of two end-member basaltic systems, La Reunion (Indian ocean, France) and Stromboli (southern Tyrrhenian sea, Italy). We showed that despite major differences on their volumes and geodynamic settings, both systems present some similarities as they are characterized by an intense intrusive activity along well-developed rift zones and recurrent phenomena of flank collapse during their evolution. Among the factors of instability, the examples of la Reunion and Stromboli evidence the major contribution of intrusive complexes to volcano growth and destruction as attested by field observations and the monitoring of these active volcanoes. Classical models consider the relationship between vertical intrusions of magma and flank movements along a preexisting sliding surface. A set of published and new field data from Piton des Neiges volcano (La Reunion) allowed us to recognize the role of subhorizontal intrusions in the process of flank instability and to characterize the geometry of both subvertical and subhorizontal intrusions within basaltic edifices. This study compares the results of numerical modelling of the displacements associated with high-angle and low-angle intrusions within basaltic volcanoes. We use a Mixed Boundary Element Method to investigate the mechanical response of an edifice to the injection of magmatic intrusions in different stress fields. Our results indicate that the anisotropy of the stress field favours the slip along the intrusions due to cointrusive shear stress, generating flank-scale displacements of the edifice, especially in the case of subhorizontal intrusions, capable of triggering large-scale flank collapses on basaltic volcanoes. Applications of our theoretical results to real cases of flank displacements on basaltic volcanoes (such as the 2007 eruptive crisis at La Reunion and Stromboli) revealed that the previous model of subvertical intrusions-related collapse is a likely mechanism affecting small-scale steeply-sloping basaltic volcanoes like Stromboli. Furthermore, our field study combined to modelling results confirms the importance of shallow-dipping intrusions in the morpho-structural evolution of large gently-sloping basaltic volcanoes like Piton de la Fournaise, Etna and Kilauea, with particular regards to flank instability, which can cause catastrophic tsunamis.
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Thibault Catry. Magma injections and destabilization of basaltic volcanoes : A numerical study : Application to La Reunion (Indian ocean, France) and Stromboli (Tyrrhenian sea, Italy). Earth Sciences. Université de la Réunion, 2011. English. ⟨NNT : 2011LARE0017⟩. ⟨tel-00805509⟩

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