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Upward migration of Vesuvius magma chamber over the past 20 thousand years

Abstract : Forecasting future eruptions of Vesuvius is an important challenge for volcanologists, as its reawakening could threaten the lives of 700,000 people living near the volcano1,2. Critical to the evaluation of hazards associated with the next eruption is the estimation of the depth of the magma reservoir, one of the main parameters controlling magma properties and eruptive style. Petrological studies have indicated that during past activity, magma chambers were at depths between 3 and 16km (refs 3– 7). Geophysical surveys have imaged some levels of seismic attenuation, the shallowest of which lies at 8–9km depth8, and these have been tentatively interpreted as levels of preferential magma accumulation. By using experimental phase equilibria, carried out on material from four main explosive events at Vesuvius, we show here that the reservoirs that fed the eruptive activity migrated from 7–8km to 3–4km depth between the AD 79 (Pompeii) and AD 472 (Pollena) events. If data from the Pomici di Base event 18.5 kyr ago9 and the 1944 Vesuvius eruption7 are included, the total upward migration of the reservoir amounts to 9–11 km. The change of preferential magma ponding levels in the upper crust can be attributed to differences in the volatile content and buoyancy of ascending magmas, as well as to changes in local stress field following either caldera formation10 or volcano spreading11. Reservoir migration, and the possible influence on feeding rates12, should be integrated into the parameters used for defining expected eruptive scenarios at Vesuvius.
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Bruno Scaillet, Michel Pichavant, R. Cioni. Upward migration of Vesuvius magma chamber over the past 20 thousand years. Nature, Nature Publishing Group, 2008, 455 (11 septembre), pp.216-219. ⟨10.1038/nature07232⟩. ⟨insu-00310129⟩

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