Magma transfer processes at persistently active volcanoes: insights from gravity observations

Locke, Corinne A.; Rymer, Hazel and Cassidy, John (2003). Magma transfer processes at persistently active volcanoes: insights from gravity observations. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 127(1-2) pp. 73–86.




Magma transfer processes at persistently active volcanoes are distinguished by the large magma flux required to sustain the prodigious quantities of heat and gas emitted at the surface. Although the resulting degassed magma has been conjectured to accumulate either deep within the volcanic edifice or in the upper levels of the sub-edifice system, no direct evidence for such active accumulation has been reported. Temporal gravity data are unique in being able to quantify mass changes and have been successfully used to model shallow magma movements on different temporal scales, but have not generally been applied to the investigation of postulated long-term accumulation of magma at greater spatial scales within volcanic systems. Here, we model the critical data acquisition parameters required to detect mass flux at volcanoes, we review existing data from a number of volcanoes that exemplify the measurement of shallow mass changes and present new data from Poas and Telica volcanoes. We show that if a substantial proportion of degassed magma lodges within the sub-edifice region, it would result in measurable annual to decadal gravity increases occurring over spatial scales of tens of kilometres and propose that existing microgravity data from Sakurajima and, possibly, Etna volcanoes could be interpreted in these terms. Furthermore, such repeat microgravity data could be used to determine whether the accumulation rate is in equilibrium with the rate of production of degassed magma as calculated from the surface gas flux and hence identify the build-up of gas-rich magma at depth that may be significant in terms of eruption potential. We also argue that large magma bodies, both molten and frozen, modelled beneath volcanoes from seismic and gravity data, could represent endogenous or cryptic intrusions of degassed magma based on order of magnitude calculations using present-day emission rates and typical volcano lifetimes.

Viewing alternatives

Download history


Public Attention

Altmetrics from Altmetric

Number of Citations

Citations from Dimensions

Item Actions