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Flank instability assessment at Kick-’em-Jenny submarine volcano (Grenada, Lesser Antilles): a multidisciplinary approach using experiments and modeling

Research paper by F. J-Y. Dondin, M. J. Heap; R. E. A. Robertson; J-F. M. Dorville; S. Carey

Indexed on: 15 Jan '17Published on: 20 Dec '16Published in: Bulletin of Volcanology



Abstract

Abstract Kick-’em-Jenny (KeJ)—located ca. 8 km north of the island of Grenada—is the only active submarine volcano of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. Previous investigations of KeJ revealed that it lies within a collapse scar inherited from a past flank instability episode. To assess the likelihood of future collapse, we employ here a combined laboratory and modeling approach. Lavas collected using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) provided samples to perform the first rock physical property measurements for the materials comprising the KeJ edifice. Uniaxial and triaxial deformation experiments showed that the dominant failure mode within the edifice host rock is brittle. Edifice fractures (such as those at Champagne Vent) will therefore assist the outgassing of the nearby magma-filled conduit, favoring effusive behavior. These laboratory data were then used as input parameters in models of slope stability. First, relative slope stability analysis revealed that the SW to N sector of the volcano displays a deficit of mass/volume with respect to a volcanoid (ideal 3D surface). Slope stability analysis using a limit equilibrium method (LEM) showed that KeJ is currently stable, since all values of stability factor or factor of safety (Fs) are greater than unity. The lowest values of Fs were found for the SW-NW sector of the volcano (the sector displaying a mass/volume deficit). Although currently stable, KeJ may become unstable in the future. Instability (severe reductions in Fs) could result, for example, from overpressurization due to the growth of a cryptodome. Our modeling has shown that instability-induced flank collapse will most likely initiate from the SW-NW sector of KeJ, therefore mobilizing a volume of at least ca. 0.7 km3. The mobilization of ca. 0.7 km3 of material is certainly capable of generating a tsunami that poses a significant hazard to the southern islands of the West Indies.AbstractKick-’em-Jenny (KeJ)—located ca. 8 km north of the island of Grenada—is the only active submarine volcano of the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc. Previous investigations of KeJ revealed that it lies within a collapse scar inherited from a past flank instability episode. To assess the likelihood of future collapse, we employ here a combined laboratory and modeling approach. Lavas collected using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) provided samples to perform the first rock physical property measurements for the materials comprising the KeJ edifice. Uniaxial and triaxial deformation experiments showed that the dominant failure mode within the edifice host rock is brittle. Edifice fractures (such as those at Champagne Vent) will therefore assist the outgassing of the nearby magma-filled conduit, favoring effusive behavior. These laboratory data were then used as input parameters in models of slope stability. First, relative slope stability analysis revealed that the SW to N sector of the volcano displays a deficit of mass/volume with respect to a volcanoid (ideal 3D surface). Slope stability analysis using a limit equilibrium method (LEM) showed that KeJ is currently stable, since all values of stability factor or factor of safety (Fs) are greater than unity. The lowest values of Fs were found for the SW-NW sector of the volcano (the sector displaying a mass/volume deficit). Although currently stable, KeJ may become unstable in the future. Instability (severe reductions in Fs) could result, for example, from overpressurization due to the growth of a cryptodome. Our modeling has shown that instability-induced flank collapse will most likely initiate from the SW-NW sector of KeJ, therefore mobilizing a volume of at least ca. 0.7 km3. The mobilization of ca. 0.7 km3 of material is certainly capable of generating a tsunami that poses a significant hazard to the southern islands of the West Indies.33