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Authors: Mollo, S.* 
Heap, M. J.* 
Iezzi, G.* 
Hess, K.-U.* 
Scarlato, P.* 
Dingwell, D. B.* 
Title: Volcanic edifice weakening via decarbonation: A self-limiting process?
Issue Date: 2012
Series/Report no.: /39(2012)
DOI: 10.1029/2012GL052613
Keywords: volcanic weakening; decarbonation
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.01. Earth Interior::04.01.04. Mineral physics and properties of rocks 
Abstract: The inherent instability of volcanic edifices, and their resultant propensity for catastrophic collapse, is a constant source of volcanic risk. Structural instability of volcanic edifices may be amplified by the presence of carbonate rocks in the sub-volcanic strata, due to the debilitating response of carbonates to thermally-induced alteration. Nonetheless, decarbonation reactions (the primary weakening mechanism), may stall when the system becomes buffered by rising levels of a reaction product, carbon dioxide. Such thermodynamic stalling might be inferred to serve to circumvent the weakness of volcanic structures. However, the present study shows that, even when decarbonation is halted, rock physical properties continue to degrade due to thermal microcracking. Furthermore, as a result, the pathways for the escape of carbon dioxide are numerous within a volcanic edifice. Therefore, in the case of an edifice with a subvolcanic sedimentary basement, the generation of carbon dioxide via decarbonation is unlikely to hinder its impact on instability, and thus potentially devastating flank collapse.
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