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Forecasting the recurrence rate of volcanic eruptions

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FEVER (Forecasting the recurrence rate of volcanic eruptions)

Reporting period: 2019-04-01 to 2020-09-30

500 million people live in proximity of volcanoes and eruptions have a significant social and economical impact, thus forecasting the recurrence rate of volcanic eruption remains a great challenge in science. The target of FEVER is to produce a physically based statistical model able to ForEcast the recurrence rate of Volcanic ERuptions both at regional and global scale. What are the physical processes that control the size and frequency of volcanic eruptions at regional and global scale? Using a range of geochemical and statistical techniques FEVER tackles this question.
In a scientific article in Nature Communications we perform calculations and modelling and propose a mechanisms leading to the formation of resurgent domes (uplift of the base of a caldera tat can reach 1000 m in few thousands of years) after caldera forming eruptions. Importantly, we show that eruptions are significantly less likely to occur within the uplifting base of the caldera.
In other two contributions in Scientific Reports, we discuss the link between the temporal evolution of volcanic systems and the formation of porphyry-type ore deposits, which provide 75% of the world’s copper.
In an article in Earth and Planetary Science Letter we discussed the impact of the magma water content on the structure of magma reservoir and their capacity to feed large volcanic eruption. In another article in the same journal we show how the flux of carbon dioxide from depth could trigger volcanic eruptions.
We have recently published an article that unveils some fundamental relationships between the architecture of convergent margins and volcanic eruptions.
In two publications in Scientific Reports and Nature communications we propose a method that uses available rock chemistry data and zircon age distributions to retrieve information on the rate of magma input in the Earth’s crust and allow for the first time to estimate the amount of magma present in the plumbing system of dormant volcanoes.
The frequency at which volcanic eruptions occur is inversely proportional to their size but only recently we contributed to identify some of the physical processes controlling this relationship. While this provides a solid base on which to build this project, the lack of data on the distribution of key parameters controlling the recurrence rate of volcanic eruptions, such as the global distribution of the flux of magma from depth, jeopardizes our ability of determining the probability of explosive eruptions of different sizes to occur on Earth in a given time period. Volcanic activity affects directly more than 500 million people living around active volcanoes and produces effects both at the local and the global scale. Thus, ForEcasting the recurrence rate of Volcanic ERuptions remains a challenge of paramount importance for Earth scientists. With FEVER I intend to face this challenge.
With this project, I am building a research group focusing on the construction of physically based statistical models able to quantify the probability of explosive eruptions of different magnitudes to occur at regional and global scale in a defined time-interval. This approach is of paramount importance for the assessment of global volcanic risk and to define the economical impact of volcanic activity on businesses such as aviation, or for administrative decisions related, as an example, to the location of power plants in volcanic regions such as Europe, the United States or Japan.
By the end of the project we expect that the collected results and the newly designed model will allow us to estimate the recurrence rate of volcanic eruptions in different regions of our planet and at the global scale. This will be essential for the sustainable development of our society and especially in regions at elevated volcanic hazard such as Europe and Japan. The results of this project will also be of interest for the airline industry because we will be able to provide estimates of the probability of eruptions such as the 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajokull to occur in the future.

I a series of publications that all came out in the year 2020 we achieved one of the main target of the project, which was to link tectonic structure of active convergent margins and volcanic eruptions. Additionally we have provided new methods to estimate the amount of magma available for eruption in active and dormant volcanic system, which is an essential parameter to estimate the size of future volcanic eruptions.
Distribution of large explosive eruptions in the last 12000 years. Circle diameter = eruption size