Origin and dynamics of volcanic debris avalanches : surface structure analysis of Tutupaca volcano (Peru)

Abstract : Landslides occur in all mountainous terrain, where the rock strength is unable to support topographic loading. Volcanic rocks are particularly landslide prone, as they mix strong and weak lithologies and are highly pre-fractured. Also, volcanoes themselves, are peculiar mountains, as they grow, thus creating their own topographic instability. Magmatic activity also deforms the edifice, and hydrothermal activity reduces strength. For all these reasons, volcanoes need close consideration for hazards, especially for the landslide-derived rock avalanches. The characteristics and properties of different debris avalanche components influence their behavior during motion. Deposits are generally hummocky, preserving original layering, which indicates a slide-type emplacement. However, some deposits have ridged morphology for which the formation mechanisms are not well understood. Two recent debris avalanches occurred at the Tutupaca volcano (S Peru). The first one, “Azufre” is Holocene and involved the collapse of active domes and underlying older hydrothermally altered rocks. The second debris avalanche, “Paipatja” occurred 200-230 y BP and is associated with a large explosive event and this deposit is ridged. The excellent conservation state of the deposits and surface structures allows a comprehensive analysis of the ridges. Both deposits have two contrasting units: a lower basal edifice-derived hydrothermally-rich subunit and an upper dome-derived block-rich unit. Detailed fieldwork has shown that Paipatja ridges have coarser core material and are finer in troughs, suggesting grain size segregation. Using analog experiments, the process that allow ridge formation are explored. We find that the mixtures undergo granular segregation and differential flow that create fingering that forms ridges by junction of static léeves defining a channel flow. Granular segregation and fingering are favored by small particle size contrast during bi-dispersed flow. The results suggest that the ridges observed at Tutupaca are product of a granular flow We extract the morphological characteristics of the deposits of granular flows generated in the laboratory and make a qualitative comparison with the Tutupaca deposits. The description of the different landslide and debris avalanche features at Tutupaca shows that two types of debris avalanche motion can occur in volcanic debris avalanches: the sliding of blocks more or less coherent and a flow similar to a granular material. This probably depends on source materials and the conditions of different parts of the initial landslide. Such information should be taken into account when estimating hazards at other volcanic landslide sites, as the different behaviors may result in different run outs.
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Patricio Valderrama Murillo. Origin and dynamics of volcanic debris avalanches : surface structure analysis of Tutupaca volcano (Peru). Earth Sciences. Université Blaise Pascal - Clermont-Ferrand II, 2016. English. ⟨NNT : 2016CLF22731⟩. ⟨tel-01487051⟩

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