Gravitational collapse of Mount Etna’s southeastern flank

Urlaub, Morelia, Petersen, Florian, Gross, Felix, Bonforte, Alessandro, Puglisi, Giuseppe, Guglielmino, Francesco, Krastel, Sebastian, Lange, Dietrich and Kopp, Heidrun (2018) Gravitational collapse of Mount Etna’s southeastern flank Science Advances, 4 (10). eaat9700. DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aat9700.

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The southeastern flank of Etna volcano slides into the Ionian Sea at rates of centimeters per year. The prevailing understanding is that pressurization of the magmatic system, and not gravitational forces, controls flank movement, although this has also been proposed. So far, it has not been possible to separate between these processes, because no data on offshore deformation were available until we conducted the first long-term seafloor displacement monitoring campaign from April 2016 until July 2017. Unprecedented seafloor geodetic data reveal a >4-cm slip along the offshore extension of a fault related to flank kinematics during one 8-day-long event in May 2017, while displacement on land peaked at ~4 cm at the coast. As deformation increases away from the magmatic system, the bulk of Mount Etna’s present continuous deformation must be driven by gravity while being further destabilized by magma dynamics. We cannot exclude flank movement to evolve into catastrophic collapse, implying that Etna’s flank movement poses a much greater hazard than previously thought. The hazard of flank collapse might be underestimated at other coastal and ocean island volcanoes, where the dynamics of submerged flanks are unknown.

Document Type: Article
Keywords: submarine landslides, seafloor geodesy, Mount Etna, flank instability, slow slip event
Research affiliation: OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence > FO-R06
OceanRep > The Future Ocean - Cluster of Excellence
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-GDY Marine Geodynamics
Kiel University
Refereed: Yes
DOI etc.: 10.1126/sciadv.aat9700
ISSN: 2375-2548
Projects: Future Ocean, Future Ocean CP1635 "Towards real-time monitoring of submarine landslides"
Date Deposited: 15 Oct 2018 12:40
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2019 04:46

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