P-wave velocity and density structure beneath Mt. Vesuvius: a magma body in the upper edifice?

Paolo Capuano, Guido Russo, Roberto Scarpa


A high-resolution image of the compressional wave velocity and density structure in the shallow edifice of Mount Vesuvius has been derived from simultaneous inversion of travel times and hypocentral parameters of local earthquakes and from gravity inversion. The robustness of the tomography solution has been improved by adding to the earthquake data a set of land based shots, used for constraining the travel time residuals. The results give a high resolution image of the P-wave velocity structure with details down to 300-500 m. The relocated local seismicity appears to extend down to 5 km depth below the central crater, distributed into two clusters, and separated by an anomalously high Vp region positioned at around 1 km depth. A zone with high Vp/Vs ratio in the upper layers is interpreted as produced by the presence of intense fluid circulation alternatively to the interpretation in terms of a small magma chamber inferred by petrologic studies. In this shallower zone the seismicity has the minimum energy, whilst most of the high-energy quakes (up to Magnitude 3.6) occur in the cluster located at greater depth. The seismicity appears to be located along almost vertical cracks, delimited by a high velocity body located along past intrusive body, corresponding to remnants of Mt. Somma. In this framework a gravity data inversion has been performed to study the shallower part of the volcano. Gravity data have been inverted using a method suitable for the application to scattered data in presence of relevant topography based on a discretization of the investigated medium performed by establishing an approximation of the topography by a triangular mesh. The tomography results, the retrieved density distribution, and the pattern of relocated seismicity exclude the presence of significant shallow magma reservoirs close to the central conduit. These should be located at depth higher than that of the base of the hypocenter volume, as evidenced by previous studies.


Volcanic risk; Tomography and anisotropy; Gravity anomalies; Mt.Vesuvius; Seismic tomography; Gravity inversion

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.4401/ag-6443
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Published by INGV, Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - ISSN: 2037-416X