Numerical model of the Stromboli volcano (Italy) including the effect of magma pressure in the dyke system

Research paper by T. Apuani, C. Corazzato

Indexed on: 05 May '08Published on: 05 May '08Published in: Rock mechanics and rock engineering


The Stromboli island, in the Aeolian archipelago (Italy), is one of the most active volcanoes in Europe. In the last 13,000 years, its growth has been complicated by four sector collapses affecting the NW flank, the latest of which resulting in the formation of Sciara del Fuoco (SdF) horseshoe-shaped depression. Slope instability phenomena are represented not only by giant deep-seated gravitational slope deformations, but also by more frequent large landslides, such as occurred in December 2002–January 2003, and shallow landslides, involving loose or weakly cemented deposits, that constitute a natural hazard and affect residential and tourists safety. It is noteworthy that in volcanic environment the instability factors are manifold and much more complex than in other non-volcanic contexts. This paper deals with the Stromboli NW flank instability, and focuses on the effects of magma pressure in the feeding system. Two main objectives have been pursued: (1) to test a methodological approach, in order to evaluate a complex instability process; (2) to contribute to the understanding of volcano deformation and collapse mechanisms and associated hazard. A numerical model was developed by the Finite Difference Method and the FLAC 4.0 code, considering a cross-section of the entire volcano, orthogonal to the SdF and including both subaerial and submerged slopes. The stability of the volcano was analysed under gravity alone, and by introducing the magma pressure effect, both related to magmastatic and overpressure components. The results indicate that gravity alone is not sufficient to affect the stability of the volcano slopes, nor is the magmastatic pressure component. If an excess magma pressure component is introduced, instability is produced in accordance with field evidences and recent slope dynamics.