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Laboratory Investigation of the unrest mechanisms at the Campi Fleigri Caldera: a tool for Mitigating Volcanic hazard


The Campi Flegrei caldera is unique among resurgent calderas: it has exhibited the most intense episodes of caldera uplift in recent decades, which caused serious threat to the densely inhabited Napolitan area, in Southern Italy. To be in a position to properly calibrate physical models of the caldera, predict and if possible forecast mechanical negative feedbacks, which could lead to catatrosphic eruptions, it appears critical to study the physical and mechanical properties of the host rock, the campanian tuffs.

The motivation of this proposal is therefore:
i) to provide for the first time experimental data on the deformation processes in Campi Flegrei caldera tuff as a function of solid stress, pore pressure and temperature,
ii) to understand the strain localization micro-mechanical processes (brittle pore collapse, dehydrations, hydro-fracturing) and to know the exact stress state at which they take place. Such a study appears crucial if we want to assess the deformation mechanisms along discontinuities in the caldera.

We propose to conduct series of experiments, under stress and temperature conditions that simulates the in-situ hydrothermal conditions, in order to describe precisely the mechanical behaviour of the Campei Flegrei tuffs. The experiments will be carried out in the presence of aggressive fluids such as seawater, and will provide new insights on the role of the localization of the deformation in the caldera. Physical properties (elastic and transport) will be measured at simulated "in situ" hydrothermal conditions and the possible seismic activity arising from inelastic deformation processes will be recorded. This would most certainly advance our knowledge of the physical mechanisms that may be responsible for the time-dependent uplift-subsidence sequences and those tests will provide invaluable data for numerical models of the subsurface system at Campi Flegrei.

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