Forecasting eruption is the ultimate challenge for volcanology. While there has been some success in forecasting eruptions hours to days beforehand, reliable forecasting on a longer timescale remains elusive. Here we show that magma inflow rate, derived from surface deformation, is an indicator of the probability of magma transfer towards the surface, and thus eruption, for basaltic calderas. Inflow rates ≥0.1 km3 yr−1 promote magma propagation and eruption within 1 year in all assessed case studies, whereas rates <0.01 km3 yr−1 do not lead to magma propagation in 89% of cases. We explain these behaviours with a viscoelastic model where the relaxation timescale controls whether the critical overpressure for dyke propagation is reached or not. Therefore, while surface deformation alone is a weak precursor of eruption, estimating magma inflow rates at basaltic calderas provides improved forecasting, substantially enhancing our capacity of forecasting weeks to months ahead of a possible eruption.
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We thank L. Caricchi, S. Jónsson and F. Sigmundsson for constructive discussions. The grant to the Department of Science, Roma Tre University (MIUR-Italy Dipartimenti di Eccellenza, ARTICOLO 1, COMMI 314 – 337 LEGGE 232/2016) is gratefully acknowledged for covering the publication fee (V.A.). F.G. was partly supported by NASA grant 80NSSC21K0842 from the Interdisciplinary Science Program of the Earth Science Division. A.H. was supported by the UK Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) through the Centre for the Observation and Modelling of Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tectonics (COMET) and the H2020 project EUROVOLC funded by the European Commission (grant number 731070).
The authors declare no competing interests.
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a) Duration of unrest and corresponding injection rates (Q). Here we include also the data from Axial Seamount. The dotted grey area and vertical dotted line have the same meaning than those in Fig. 1a and c. The purple area on the y axis marks the syn-eruptive rates of Kilauea in the last 40 years. b) Histogram of frequency of the rates associated with the unrest episodes.
Maximum overpressures (ΔPmax) depending on inflow rate and volume of the reservoir, assuming a viscoelastic rheology with viscosity 4×1018 Pa s. Grey area indicates ΔPcrit =10 ± 4 MPa and dashed line ΔPcrit =10 MPa. Data below the grey area are in the viscous domain, promoting magma storage and plain unrest. Data above the grey area are in the elastic domain, promoting dyke nucleation.
Circles represent natural data (unrest nucleating dyke in less than 1 year) with t that should correspond to τe. All the points lie between the lower and higher values of V0, E and ΔPcrit used in our analysis (for the red line E=20 GPa, V0=20 km3 ΔPcrit=6 MPa, while for the yellow line GPa, E=60 GPa; V0=150 km3 and ΔPcrit=14 MPa).
Time required to reach the critical overpressure to nucleate a dyke in the elastic domain as a function of the inflow rates Q and the volume of the reservoir V, using a) ΔPcrit=10 MPa and E = 60 GPa, b) ΔPcrit=6 MPa and E = 30 GPa, c) ΔPcrit=10 MPa and E =20 GPa. The thicker line marks t=1 year.
Red and blue lines show the variation of the minimum rates (Qmin) for nucleating a dyke in the viscous regime as a function of τv. Triangles represents the plain unrest episodes in our dataset. Asterisks are the unrest episodes nucleating dykes in more than 1 yr.
Extended Data Fig. 6 Unrest outcome as a function of Q considering only the mean of the Krafla cases.
a Duration of unrest and corresponding inflow rate, Q, as a function of unrest outcome. The grey area highlights the zone with transitional rates (5 ± 4 ×10−2 km3/yr). The vertical dotted grey line separates the unrest episodes lasting <1 year from those lasting >1 year. Krafla data have been reduced to a single data point (mean value) above the transition zone and in the upper transition zone. b Histogram of frequency of the inflow rates. Tr. Q,, L. Tz. and U. Tz. in panel b refer to transitional, lower transitional and upper transitional rates, respectively.
Red triangles point calderas in Fig. 1. Magenta triangles highlight the two additional calderas (Kilauea and Axial Seamount) considered in Extended Data Fig. 1. Blue circles highlight the location of other mafic calderas where our results (also calibrated to different inflow rates) could be applied, although the shallow depth of the magma reservoir should be verified.
Injection rates and times (duration of the unrest). Data used for generating Fig. 1.
Injection rates and times (duration of the unrest episodes) used in Extended Data Fig. 1. Data in Supplementary Table 2. Additional data are those coming from calderas not considered in Fig. 1.
In this table, we report the intruded volume (V) and the times of the considered unrest episodes.
In this table, we report the inflow rates (Q) and the times of the considered unrest episodes.
In this table, we report the inflow rates (Q) and the times of the considered unrest episodes.
Longitude and latitude of the calderas plotted in Extended Data Fig. 7. In the txt file named LonLatcaldereFig1 the longitude and latitude of the analysed mafic calderas are reported. In LonLatcaldereextraFigS1.txt there are the coordinates of the two calderas added in Extended Data Fig. 1. In LonLatcalderepotentialtarget.txt there are the coordinates of the additional potentially similar mafic calderas.
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Galetto, F., Acocella, V., Hooper, A. et al. Eruption at basaltic calderas forecast by magma flow rate. Nat. Geosci. 15, 580–584 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41561-022-00960-z