Triggering of eruptions at Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge

TitleTriggering of eruptions at Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2020
AuthorsCabaniss, HE, Gregg, PM, Nooner, SL, Chadwick, WW
JournalScientific Reports
Type of ArticleJournal Article

The submarine volcano Axial Seamount has exhibited an inflation predictable eruption cycle, which allowed for the successful forecast of its 2015 eruption. However, the exact triggering mechanism of its eruptions remains ambiguous. The inflation predictable eruption pattern suggests a magma reservoir pressure threshold at which eruptions occur, and as such, an overpressure eruption triggering mechanism. However, recent models of volcano unrest suggest that eruptions are triggered when conditions of critical stress are achieved in the host rock surrounding a magma reservoir. We test hypotheses of eruption triggering using 3-dimensional finite element models which track stress evolution and mechanical failure in the host rock surrounding the Axial magma reservoir. In addition, we provide an assessment of model sensitivity to various temperature and non-temperature-dependent rheologies and external tectonic stresses. In this way, we assess the contribution of these conditions to volcanic deformation, crustal stress evolution, and eruption forecasts. We conclude that model rheology significantly impacts the predicted timing of through-going failure and eruption. Models consistently predict eruption at a reservoir pressure threshold of 12–14 MPa regardless of assumed model rheology, lending support to the interpretation that eruptions at Axial Seamount are triggered by reservoir overpressurization.


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