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Authors: Harris, Andrew* 
Mannini, Stefano* 
Calabrò, Laura* 
Calvari, Sonia* 
Gurioli, Lucia* 
Chevrel, Magdalena Oryaëlle* 
Favalli, Massimiliano* 
Villeneuve, Nicolas* 
Title: Forest destruction by ‘a‘ā lava flow during Etna's 2002–03 eruption: Mechanical, thermal, and environmental interactions
Journal: Journal of Volcanologi and Geothermal Research 
Series/Report no.: /429 (2022)
Publisher: Elsevier
Issue Date: 4-Jul-2022
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2022.107621
Keywords: Channelized ‘a‘ ̄a lava flow
thermal imagery
lava flows
2002-03 eruption
forest destruction
tree molds
Etna volcano
cooling rates
Interaction lava and trees
Subject Classification04.08. Volcanology 
Abstract: Forest destruction by ‘a‘ ̄a lava flow is common. However, mechanical and thermal interactions between the invading lava and the invaded forest are poorly constrained. We complete mapping, thermal image and sample analyses of a channel-fed ‘a‘a ̄ lava flow system that invaded forest on the NE flank of Mt. Etna (Italy) in 2002. These lava flows destroyed 231,000 trees, only 2% of which are still visible as felled trunks on the levees or at the channel-levee contact. The remaining 98% were first felled by the flow front, with the trunks then buried by the flow. Rare tree molds can be found at the rubble levee base where trees were buried by avalanching hot breccia and then burnt through, with a time scale for total combustion being a few days. Protruding trunks fell away from the flow, if felled by blocks avalanching down the levee flank, or became aligned with the flow if falling onto the moving stream. Estimated cooling rates (0.1–5.5 ◦C km− 1) are normal for well-insulated ‘a‘a ̄ flow, suggesting no thermal interaction. We find the highest phenocryst concentrations (of 50–60%, above an expected value of 30–40%) in low velocity (<0.5 m s− 1) locations. These low velocity zones are also characterized by high trunk concentrations. Thus, the common factor behind crystal and trunk deposition is velocity. That is, when the lava slows down, crystal settling occurs and trunks are preferentially deposited. Thus, although we find no thermal or textural effects due to the presence of the forest, we do find mechanical and environmental in- teractions where the trees are consumed to become part of the flow.
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