The Role of Pore Fluid Pressure on the Failure of Magma Reservoirs: Insights From Indonesian and Aleutian Arc Volcanoes

F. Albino, F. Amelung, P. Gregg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

We use numerical models to study the mechanical stability of magma reservoirs embedded in elastic host rock. We quantify the overpressure required to open tensile fractures (the failure overpressure), as a function of the depth and the size of the reservoir, the loading by the volcanic edifice, and the pore fluid pressure in the crust. We show that the pore fluid pressure is the most important parameter controlling the magnitude of the failure overpressure rather than the reservoir depth and the edifice load. Under lithostatic pore fluid pressure conditions, the failure overpressure is on the order of the rock tensile strength (a few tens of megapascals). Under zero pore fluid pressure conditions, the failure overpressure increases linearly with depth (a few hundreds of megapascals at 5 km depth). We use our models to forecast the failure displacement (the cumulative surface displacement just before an eruption) on volcanoes showing unrest: Sinabung and Agung (Indonesia) and Okmok and Westdahl (Aleutian). By comparison between our forecast and the observation, we provide valuable constraint on the pore fluid pressure conditions on the volcanic system. At Okmok, the occurrence of the 2008 eruption can be explained with a 1,000 m reservoir embedded in high pore fluid pressure, whereas the absence of eruption at Westdahl better suggests that the pore fluid pressure is much lower than lithostatic. Our finding suggests that the pore fluid pressure conditions around the reservoir may play an important role in the triggering of an eruption by encouraging or discouraging the failure of the reservoir.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1328-1349
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Volume123
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

Keywords

  • FEM modeling
  • eruption triggering
  • pore fluid pressure
  • reservoir failure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science

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