Project summary

STRUCTURAL AND RHEOLOGICAL CONSTRAINTS ON MAGMA MIGRATION, ACCUMULATION AND ERUPTION THROUGH THE LITHOSPHERE (2015-2019)

Leaders: Alessandro Tibaldi (Italy) and Agust Gudmundsson (UK)

Co-Leaders: Donald Dingwell (Germany), Joachim Gottsmann (UK), Joan Martí (Spain)

Volcanism is a geological process that has significant socio-economic implications due to its short and long term associated hazards, which include their direct impact but also potential global atmospheric effects. Therefore, understanding the causes and effects of volcanism is of major importance to minimise its risks. Deciphering how volcanism works and how we can anticipate the occurrence of volcanic eruptions, require first to fully understand how its main driving force, magma, forms, evolves and moves across the lithosphere. This project proposes an innovative approach to quantify the structural and rheological controls of magma migration and accumulation into the lithosphere by promoting networking among a large number of research groups with diverse expertise, contributing to the development of multidisciplinary knowledge on such complex subject and, thus, to better understand volcanism and to mitigate its related hazards.

In the Earth System, volcanism is one of the more complex geological processes as it involves the generation of magma in the mantle or lower crust, its ascent, accumulation and differentiation through the lithosphere, and finally its eruption at the surface. Moreover, ejection of volcanic products involves interaction with processes of atmospheric dynamics and circulation. These processes have diverse time scales and end with volcanic eruptions that may impose a serious threat to society, which is becoming more and more vulnerable to volcanic impacts (e.g.: 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland) due to its highly technological dependency and rapid demographic development. How magma will move and evolve through the lithosphere will determine whether it will erupt or not, so understanding magma migration and accumulation processes is crucial to comprehend also volcanism and to constrain associated hazards. However, understanding magma dynamics is a very complex task that cannot be undertaken by a single group of experts, as it requires a multidisciplinary study that combines techniques and concepts from various geological and geophysical disciplines. The study and characterisation of the relationships between plutonic and volcanic processes is one of the most debated topics in the modern Earth Sciences. Both processes have traditionally been studied separately, but in recent years they are increasingly considered as a single system, which bears important implications in the study of lithospheric processes, the formation of mineral deposits associated with siliceous magmas, the formation and dynamics of geothermal reservoirs, and in volcanic hazard and risk assessment.

The proposed ILP project pretends to promote networking at a global level in order to merge all the expertise required to understand and quantify the structural and rheological constraints on magma migration and accumulation in the lithosphere, as a further step to understand volcanism and its potential risks. This ILP project aims to facilitate a discussion forum on the present state of knowledge on magmatic processes as part of the Earth System Science, and to improve knowledge on the pre-eruptive conditions of magmas. With this effort we also want to contribute to define the guidelines to address future research on such subject in a more precise way and to optimise its application to the management of volcanic hazards and risks.