Combined morphological and thermal analysis of lava flows: A way to boost understanding of emplacement dynamics

Tarquini S. and D. Coppola (2018)
Terra Nova, doi: 10.1111/ter.12328, online first


During emplacement, lavas modify the pre-existing topography and release a large amount of heat. In spite of the relevance of both heat and mass release, combined morphological and thermal analyses have been seldom carried out at a flow-field scale. Here, we consider a channelised lava flow unit formed at Mt Etna during the 2001 flank eruption, and we show that, by combining a morphological analysis of the pre- and post-emplacement topography with the analysis of the syn-eruptive thermal signature, critical insights about the processes driving mass and heat dissipation can be derived. Our results suggest that, in the considered lava flow, the pre-emplacement slope controls heat dissipation and can influence the thickness of the final lava deposit, with possible implications for hazard assessment. The width of the lava channel, instead, appears less sensitive to the pre-emplacement slope, and tends to regularly increase with increasing distance from the vent.

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