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Volcano electrical tomography unveils edifice collapse hazard linked to hydrothermal system structure and dynamics

Abstract : Catastrophic collapses of the flanks of stratovolcanoes constitute a major hazard threatening numerous lives in many countries. Although many such collapses occurred following the ascent of magma to the surface, many are not associated with magmatic reawakening but are triggered by a combination of forcing agents such as pore-fluid pressurization and/or mechanical weakening of the volcanic edifice often located above a low-strength detachment plane. The volume of altered rock available for collapse, the dynamics of the hydrothermal fluid reservoir and the geometry of incipient collapse failure planes are key parameters for edifice stability analysis and modelling that remain essentially hidden to current volcano monitoring techniques. Here we derive a high-resolution, three-dimensional electrical conductivity model of the La Soufrière de Guadeloupe volcano from extensive electrical tomography data. We identify several highly conductive regions in the lava dome that are associated to fluid saturated host-rock and preferential flow of highly acid hot fluids within the dome. We interpret this model together with the existing wealth of geological and geochemical data on the volcano to demonstrate the influence of the hydrothermal system dynamics on the hazards associated to collapse-prone altered volcanic edifices.
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Marina Rosas-Carbajal, Jean-Christophe Komorowski, Florence Nicollin, Dominique Gibert. Volcano electrical tomography unveils edifice collapse hazard linked to hydrothermal system structure and dynamics. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2016, 6 (1), pp.29899. ⟨10.1038/srep29899⟩. ⟨insu-01355321⟩

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