Understanding Lava Flow Morphologies and Structures for Hazard Assessment

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Sonia Calvari


Lava flow surface morphologies are like pages of a book. If we are able to read the writing of that book, we can understand its content, and learn, act, and react accordingly. In the same way, if we understand lava surface morphology, recognise how it formed and the hazard it poses while flowing, we can adopt actions to protect from lava flow invasion our villages, infrastructures and local population. The surface of lava is a function of intrinsic and extrinsic qualities, and their combination results in different shapes, sizes, and complexities, as well as in different hazards. Initial sheet flows spreading at high speed have great potential for devastating land, as happened in Hawaii in August 2018. However, their destructive potential significantly decreases with time and distance from the vent. Conversely, lava oozing from the far exit of lava tubes moves slowly but allows the tubes to expand, increasing gradually and slowly the potential hazard for invasion of more remote lands. In this paper, I present an overview of diverse lava flow surfaces, morphologies and structures in a framework of their generating eruptive parameters, in order to suggest preliminary but prompt hazard evaluations that could be applied during the initial phases of effusive volcanic crises at basaltic volcanoes worldwide. 

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How to Cite
Calvari, S. (2019) “Understanding Lava Flow Morphologies and Structures for Hazard Assessment”, Annals of Geophysics, 62(2), p. VO217. doi: 10.4401/ag-8048.
Special Issue: MeMoVolc

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