Bulletin of Volcanology

, 76:875 | Cite as

Craters of elevation revisited: forced-folds, bulging and uplift of volcanoes

  • B. van Wyk de VriesEmail author
  • A. Márquez
  • R. Herrera
  • J. L. Granja Bruña
  • P. Llanes
  • A. Delcamp
Research Article


The eighteenth/nineteenth century ‘craters of elevation’ theory required magma to uplift strata, doming the surface and creating a central down-fallen ‘crater’ or graben. Exponents of craters of elevation attempted to apply it to explain the origin of all volcanoes, and rapidly the contemporary competing ‘craters of eruption’ theory replaced it as the paradigm for volcano construction. Several historic examples have shown that intrusions can cause uplift, termed bulges and can create features like those proposed for craters of elevation (e.g. at Usu 1944, Bezymianny 1955 and Mt. St. Helens 1980). Work on sedimentary basins that have had igneous activity has shown that intrusions create ‘forced folds’ that uplift and deform strata in a similar way to that originally proposed for craters of elevation. In view of the above, we investigate large-scale intrusion-related topographic changes at two sites where the craters of elevation theory was developed: the monogenetic volcanoes of the Chaîne des Puys, France and the Teide stratovolcano, Tenerife. We combine observations of such features with examples of forced folding to integrate the two fields of research. Our observations in the Chaîne des Puys show that: (1) the Petit Puy de Dôme has a bulge of up to 150-m uplift. The uplift has a central depressed area (a graben), a dense network of normal faults, basal thrusts and an aborted landslide. (2) The Grosmanaux volcano is a forced fold created by uplift of a previously flat-lying area, and has dense faulting and a graben on the resultant topographic bulge. It was the site also of a major vulcanian eruption from the associated Kilian crater. (3) The Gouttes volcano was uplifted by an intrusion like the Petit Puy de Dôme, but then collapsed to generate a landslide and lateral blast. (4) Excavation in the Lemptégy Volcano exposes intra-eruption intrusions with associated uplift, providing examples in cross-section of the internal deformation likely to be found inside other Chaîne des Puys uplifted bulges. On Teide, a bulge near the summit shows similar structures and surface tilting as seen on the Petit Puy de Dôme and this bulging may have formed during the eruption of the Lavas Negras, the most recent activity on the summit area. Fault scarps on Teide also expose small cryptodomes, like those seen at Lemptégy. These examples, coupled with field studies on eroded intrusions, data on forced folds in basins and analogue models, show how large-scale topographic remodelling and structural change can be created by intrusions. These can rapidly and significantly change the volcanic edifice. A crater of elevation bulge, or forced fold that is stabilised by the cooling of the intrusion, will remain an important structural element in a volcano. This process starts even at the small scale of monogenetic volcanoes, and could occur through the lifetime of any growing stratovolcano. Such activity may be commonplace, but may be masked by concomitant eruption or removed by subsequent collapse. Monitoring and hazard strategies should be ready to deal with such large-scale events that will seriously modify the eruptive activity and stability of a volcano within days or weeks.


Craters of elevation Crater of eruption Forced fold Intrusion-related topography Cryptodomes Chaîne des Puys Teide 



We especially thank Olivier Galland and Craig Magee for great reviews and August Gudmundsson for his editorial skill. We also thank: the Volcan de Lemptégy for generous access and assistance ( the Parque Naturale Regionale des Volcans d’Auvergne: the Chaîne des Puys and Faille de la Limagne project ( the Conseil Générale du Puy de Dôme (especially for co-financing the LIDAR, with the OPGC and Auvergne Region). The Teide National Park provided authorization to carry out work in restricted areas. Teleférico del Teide kindly support our fieldwork in the volcano. This work has been funded by project CGL2010-19388 of the Spanish Science Minister (MICINN). Thanks go also to: Jake Lowenstern and Paul Mohr for information on Alid: INETER in Nicaragua with whom the Momotombo work was completed: Alexander and Marina Belousov for being enthusiastic about the Petit Puy de Dôme.


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Authors and Affiliations

  • B. van Wyk de Vries
    • 1
    Email author
  • A. Márquez
    • 2
  • R. Herrera
    • 2
  • J. L. Granja Bruña
    • 3
  • P. Llanes
    • 3
  • A. Delcamp
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire Magmas et Volcans, UMR6524 CNRS, IRD, Observatoire de Physique du Globe de ClermontUniversité Blaise Pascal, Clermont-UniversitéClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.Area de Geologia, ESCETUniversidad Rey Juan CarlosMostolesSpain
  3. 3.Grupo de Tectonofisica Aplicada, Departamento de GeodinamicaUniversidad ComplutenseMadridSpain
  4. 4.Department of Geography, Earth System ScienceVrije Universiteit BrusselBrusselsBelgium

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