Driving magma to the surface: The 2011-2012 El Hierro Volcanic Eruption

TitleDriving magma to the surface: The 2011-2012 El Hierro Volcanic Eruption
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsLopez C, Benito-Saz MA, Martí J, del-Fresno C, Garcia-Canada L, Albert H, Lamolda H
JournalGeochemistry Geophysics Geosystems
Date Published08/2017

We reanalyzed the seismic and deformation data corresponding to the preeruptive unrest on El Hierro (Canary Islands) in 2011. We considered new information about the internal structure of the island. We updated the seismic catalog to estimate the full evolution of the released seismic energy and demonstrate the importance of nonlocated earthquakes. Using seismic data and GPS displacements, we characterized the shear-tensile type of the predominant fracturing and modeled the strain and stress fields for different time periods. This enabled us to identify a prolonged first phase characterized by hydraulic tensile fracturing, which we interpret as being related to the emplacement of new magma below the volcanic edifice on El Hierro. This was followed by postinjection unidirectional migration, probably controlled by the stress field and the distribution of the structural discontinuities. We identified the effects of energetic magmatic pulses occurring a few days before the eruption that induced shear seismicity on preexisting faults within the volcano and raised the Coulomb stress over the whole crust. We suggest that these magmatic pulses reflect the crossing of the Moho discontinuity, as well as changes in the path geometry of the dyke migration toward the surface. The final phase involved magma ascent through a prefractured crust.