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Authors: Tarquini, S.* 
Favalli, M.* 
Mazzarini, F.* 
Isola, I.* 
Fornaciai, A.* 
Title: Morphometric analysis of lava flow units: Case study over LIDAR-derived topography at Mount Etna, Italy
Journal: Journal of volcanology and geothermal research 
Series/Report no.: /235-236(2012)
Publisher: Elsevier Science Limited
Issue Date: 1-Aug-2012
DOI: 10.1016/S0377-0273(03)00120-3
Keywords: LIDAR
Lava flow unit
Lava flow morphology
High resolution DEM
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.02. Experimental volcanism 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.03. Magmas 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.08. Volcanic risk 
Abstract: High resolution, LIDAR-derived digital elevation models of volcanic areas can significantly improve knowledge of lava flow morphology and emplacement mechanisms. Here we focus on single flow units, presenting a new semi-automatic procedure which provides a quantitative analysis of their shape. The method relies on the automatic processing of the elevation profiles obtained on transects orthogonal to the flow unit axis. The initial phase of the Mount Etna flank eruption from September 2004 is taken as test case, and the procedure is applied on an active lava flow, which was emplaced on the eastern flank of the volcano. The main topographic dataset used is a 2-m-resolution digital elevation model obtained from a LIDAR survey. Starting from the axis of a lava flow unit, our method yields morphometric data on the flow unit at a 2 m spacing, calculating parameters including flow width, channel width, the heights of the levees, inward and outward slope of levees, and estimating pre-emplacement slope along the axis. The procedure is embedded in a customized GIS, which allows easy processing, handling and displaying of data. The procedure has also been applied to another flow unit emplaced during the October–November 1999 overflow from the Bocca Nuova crater. Results show that the channel width seems to accommodate first‐order trends of the pre-emplacement slope along the flow unit axis, while it is little affected by high frequency changes in slope; in contrast, flow unit width and flow unit thickness are apparently influenced by small‐scale changes in slope. The different emplacement conditions of the two flow units are reflected by the overall contrasting morphologies, as shown by the different average thickness and by the different ratios between (i) flow width vs. channel width and (ii) flow unit section area vs. channel width. The new method provides an enhanced, systematic and thorough morphometric description of flow units, which may improve the understanding of the emplacement mechanisms of lava flows on Earth and other planets.
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