Volcanic precursors in light of eruption mechanisms at Vesuvius

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Roberto Scandone
Lisetta Giacomelli


Vesuvius entered a quiescent stage after the eruption of March-April 1944. The eruption was not much different or larger than other before, like for example the one of 1906, but it occurred at the end of a long period during which it was observed a decreasing trend of explosivity of eruptions [Scandone et al. 2008]. The parallel increase in the frequency of slow effusive eruptions, with respect to violent strombolian eruptions, point out to a process of average slower rate of magma ascent possibly due to a progressive sealing of the ascent path of magma to the surface. The small caldera collapse following the 1944 explosive phase effectively sealed the upper conduit, and since then the volcano entered a quiescence stage that was unusual with respect to the pattern of activity of the previous 300 years when the maximum repose time had been of 7 years (after the eruption of 1906). Most of the uncertainty on the duration of the present stage and character of a future renewal of activity derives by the basic questions regarding the nature of the current repose: due to a diminished supply of magma, related with structural condition or a sealing of the upper ascent path to the surface? Possibly the variation of structural conditions caused average slower ascent rates of magma favoring its cooling in the upper part of the crust, and effectively sealing the ascent path.

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Scandone R, Giacomelli L. Volcanic precursors in light of eruption mechanisms at Vesuvius. Ann. Geophys. [Internet]. 2013Nov.12 [cited 2022Jan.23];56(4):S0455. Available from: https://www.annalsofgeophysics.eu/index.php/annals/article/view/6461