Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Geophysics (PhD)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences

Advisor

William I Rose

Co-Advisor

Gregory Phillip Waite

DOI

10.37099/mtu.dc.etds/330

Abstract

Volcanoes are the surficial expressions of complex pathways that vent magma and gasses generated deep in the Earth. Geophysical data record at least the partial history of magma and gas movement in the conduit and venting to the atmosphere. This work focuses on developing a more comprehensive understanding of explosive degassing at Fuego volcano, Guatemala through observations and analysis of geophysical data collected in 2005 – 2009. A pattern of eruptive activity was observed during 2005 – 2007 and quantified with seismic and infrasound, satellite thermal and gas measurements, and lava flow lengths. Eruptive styles are related to variable magma flux and accumulation of gas. Explosive degassing was recorded on broadband seismic and infrasound sensors in 2008 and 2009. Explosion energy partitioning between the ground and the atmosphere shows an increase in acoustic energy from 2008 to 2009, indicating a shift toward increased gas pressure in the conduit. Very-long-period (VLP) seismic signals are associated with the strongest explosions recorded in 2009 and waveform modeling in the 10 – 30 s band produces a best-fit source location 300 m west and 300 m below the summit crater. The calculated moment tensor indicates a volumetric source, which is modeled as a dike feeding a SW-dipping (35°) sill. The sill is the dominant component and its projection to the surface nearly intersects the summit crater. The deformation history of the sill is interpreted as: 1) an initial inflation due to pressurization, followed by 2) a rapid deflation as overpressure is explosively release, and finally 3) a reinflation as fresh magma flows into the sill and degasses. Tilt signals are derived from the horizontal components of the seismometer and show repetitive inflation deflation cycles with a 20 minute period coincident with strong explosions. These cycles represent the pressurization of the shallow conduit and explosive venting of overpressure that develops beneath a partially crystallized plug of magma. The energy released during the strong explosions has allowed for imaging of Fuego’s shallow conduit, which appears to have migrated west of the summit crater. In summary, Fuego is becoming more gas charged and its summit centered vent is shifting to the west - serious hazard consequences are likely.

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