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Authors: Battaglia, M.*
Di Bari, M.*
Acocella, V.*
Neri, M.*
Title: Dike emplacement and flank instability at Mount Etna: Constraints from a poro-elastic-model of flank collapse
Title of journal: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Series/Report no.: /199 (2011)
Publisher: Elsevier B.V.
Issue Date: 1-Jan-2011
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2010.11.005
Keywords: Etna
dike intrusion
flank instability
analytical modelling
Abstract: Many volcanic edifices are subject to flank failure, usually produced by a combination of events, rather than any single process. From a dynamic point of view, the cause of collapse can be divided into factors that contribute to an increase in shear stress, and factors that contribute to the reduction in the friction coefficient μ of a potential basal failure plane. We study the potential for flank failure at Mount Etna considering a schematic section of the eastern flank, approximated by a wedge-like block. For such geometry, we perform a (steady state) limit equilibrium analysis: the resolution of the forces parallel to the possible basal failure plane allows us to determine the total force acting on the potentially unstable wedge. An estimate of the relative strength of these forces suggests that, in first approximation, the stability is controlled primarily by the balance between block weight, lithostatic load and magmatic forces. Any other force (sea load, hydrostatic uplift, and the uplift due to mechanical and thermal pore-fluid pressure) may be considered of second order. To study the model sensitivity, we let the inferred slope α of the basal surface failure vary between −10° and 10°, and consider three possible scenarios: no magma loading, magmastatic load, and magmastatic load with magma overpressure. We use error propagation to include in our analysis the uncertainties in the estimates of the mechanics and geometrical parameters controlling the block equilibrium. When there is no magma loading, the ratio between destabilizing and stabilizing forces is usually smaller than the coefficient of friction of the basal failure plane. In the absence of an initiating mechanism, and with the nominal values of the coefficient of friction μ = 0.7 ± 0.1 proposed, the representative wedge will remain stable or continue to move at constant speed. In presence of magmastatic forces, the influence of the lateral restraint decreases. If we consider the magmastatic load only, the block will remain stable (or continue to move at constant speed), unless the transient mechanical and thermal pressurization significantly decrease the friction coefficient, increasing the instability of the flank wedge for α > 5° (seaward dipping decollement). When the magma overpressure contribution is included in the equilibrium analysis, the ratio between destabilizing and stabilizing forces is of the same order or larger than the coefficient of friction of the basal failure plane, and the block will become unstable (or accelerate), especially in the case of the reduction in friction coefficient. Finally, our work suggests that the major challenge in studying flank instability at Mount Etna is not the lack of an appropriate physical model, but the limited knowledge of the mechanical and geometrical parameters describing the block equilibrium.
Appears in Collections:Papers Published / Papers in press
04.01.99. General or miscellaneous
04.01.02. Geological and geophysical evidences of deep processes
04.04.99. General or miscellaneous
04.04.06. Rheology, friction, and structure of fault zones
04.04.09. Structural geology
04.07.99. General or miscellaneous
04.07.02. Geodynamics
04.07.05. Stress
04.07.07. Tectonics
04.08.99. General or miscellaneous
04.08.03. Magmas
04.08.06. Volcano monitoring
04.08.08. Volcanic risk
05.01.99. General or miscellaneous

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