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Lara Smale
PhD Research
Natural and Biological Hazards

The Control of Hydrothermal Systems on Eruption Precursors at Large Calderas

Large calderas commonly host large populations and are among the highest risk volcanoes in the world. Intra-caldera eruptions are typically preceded by 10-100 years of episodic unrest characterised by uplift and volcano-tectonic seismicity that are driven by pressurisation of a magma body and the overlying hydrothermal system. Conventionally it is assumed that magma dominates unrest, however both components can contribute a comparable amount. Key to understanding the signals of unrest at calderas is differentiating the magmatic versus hydrothermal components. Assessment of magma overpressure and therefore the eruption potential can only be estimated from the pattern of ground deformation. Thus the hydrothermal component must first be identified and removed. Not doing so reduces the reliability of forecasts and increases the probability of a false alarm. Campi Flegrei provides an outstanding example of a caldera undergoing long-term unrest and will be used as a test location to investigate the coupling of magmatic-hydrothermal systems. Analytical and numerical models will be used to: i) quantify the transient ground deformation due to the hydrothermal system; ii) investigate the long–term evolution of deformation signals during successive episodes of unrest; and iii) develop scenarios for isolating the hydrothermal component during future episodes of unrest.
Stephen Edwards
Christopher Kilburn
Geophysical Hazards
Geological Sciences
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