Scientific article

Frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions controlled by magma injection and buoyancy

Published inNature geoscience, vol. 7, p. 126-130
Publication date2014

Super-eruptions are extremely rare events. Indeed, the global frequency of explosive volcanic eruptions is inversely propor- tional to the volume of magma released in a single event1,2. The rate of magma supply, mechanical properties of the crust and magma, and tectonic regime are known to play a role in controlling eruption frequency and magnitude3–7, but their relative contributions have not been quantified. Here we use a thermomechanical numerical model of magma injection into Earth's crust and Monte Carlo simulations to explore the fac- tors controlling the recurrence rates of eruptions of different magnitudes. We find that the rate of magma supply to the upper crust controls the volume of a single eruption. The time interval between magma injections into the subvolcanic reser- voir, at a constant magma-supply rate, determines the duration of the magmatic activity that precedes eruptions. Our simu- lations reproduce the observed relationship between eruption volume and magma chamber residence times and replicate the observed correlation between erupted volumes and caldera dimensions8,9. We also find that magma buoyancy is key to triggering super-eruptions, whereas pressurization associated with magma injection is responsible for relatively small and frequent eruptions. Our findings help improve our ability to decipher the long-term activity patterns of volcanic systems.

  • Frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions
  • Largest physically possible eruption on Earth
Citation (ISO format)
CARICCHI, Luca et al. Frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions controlled by magma injection and buoyancy. In: Nature geoscience, 2014, vol. 7, p. 126–130. doi: 10.1038/ngeo2041
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
ISSN of the journal1752-0894

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