Stress field control of eruption dynamics at a rift volcano: Nyamuragira, D.R.Congo
Wadge, G. and Burt, L. (2011) Stress field control of eruption dynamics at a rift volcano: Nyamuragira, D.R.Congo. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 207 (1-2). pp. 1-15. ISSN 0377-0273
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2011.06.012
Using the record of 30 flank eruptions over the last 110 years at Nyamuragira, we have tested the relationship between the eruption dynamics and the local stress field. There are two groups of eruptions based on their duration (< 80days >) that are also clustered in space and time. We find that the eruptions fed by dykes parallel to the East African Rift Valley have longer durations (and larger volumes) than those eruptions fed by dykes with other orientations. This is compatible with a model for compressible magma transported through an elastic-walled dyke in a differential stress field from an over-pressured reservoir (Woods et al., 2006). The observed pattern of eruptive fissures is consistent with a local stress field modified by a northwest-trending, right lateral slip fault that is part of the northern transfer zone of the Kivu Basin rift segment. We have also re-tested with new data the stochastic eruption models for Nyamuragira of Burt et al. (1994). The time-predictable, pressure-threshold model remains the best fit and is consistent with the typically observed declining rate of sulphur dioxide emission during the first few days of eruption with lava emission from a depressurising, closed, crustal reservoir. The 2.4-fold increase in long-term eruption rate that occurred after 1977 is confirmed in the new analysis. Since that change, the record has been dominated by short-duration eruptions fed by dykes perpendicular to the Rift. We suggest that the intrusion of a major dyke during the 1977 volcano-tectonic event at neighbouring Nyiragongo volcano inhibited subsequent dyke formation on the southern flanks of Nyamuragira and this may also have resulted in more dykes reaching the surface elsewhere. Thus that sudden change in output was a result of a changed stress field that forced more of the deep magma supply to the surface. Another volcano-tectonic event in 2002 may also have changed the magma output rate at Nyamuragira.