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Formation of an ‘a’ā lava delta: insights from time-lapse multibeam bathymetry and direct observations during the Stromboli 2007 eruption

Abstract

Five consecutive multibeam bathymetries collected before, during, and after the 2007 Stromboli eruption, combined with visual inspections, allowed us to document the morphological evolution of an ‘a’ā lava-fed delta and to reconstruct the main processes acting during its submarine emplacement. The 2007 Stromboli delta extended down to 600-m water depth and covered an area of 420 × 103 m2, with a maximum thickness of 65 m and a total estimated volume of ≈7 × 106 m3, i.e., three times larger than its subaerial counterpart. The lava delta grew mainly through the emplacement of discrete lobes about 50–150 m in size. Lobes were fed from point sources along the paleoshoreline, and their subaqueous pathways seem to be mainly controlled by the submarine morphology, with flows mostly filling in depressions left by previous lobes. The main controlling factors on the lobe morphology and thickness are the effusion rates and the pre-eruption morphology, i.e., the geometry and gradients of the basal surface. Data also shows that sudden slope failure of portions of the submarine delta may occur simultaneously with accretion, implying that a significant part of the delta material can be transported to greater depths by submarine gravity flows. The present study is relevant for future monitoring and hazard assessment during the growth of active lava-fed deltas as well as for a better interpretation of ancient volcaniclastic successions inland.

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Acknowledgments

The data was collected by the CNR-IGAG and Sapienza University of Roma in support of the emergency activity conducted by the Department for Civil Protection (DPC) during the 2007 Stromboli eruption. We also gratefully acknowledge the support from the MaGIC (Marine Geohazards along the Italian Coasts) and RITMARE (La Ricerca ITaliana per il MARE) Projects funded by DPC and MIUR, respectively. Crew of R/V Urania, Universitatis, and Uranoare gratefully acknowledged along with the people who took part in the surveys. A special thank is due to Claudio Del Deo for the photos realized during the scuba dives, Marilena Calarco, Mario Raspagliosi, and Andrea Grazzini for their support during the realization of syn-eruption surveys, and André Fascetti for post-processing of multibeam data. Finally, we acknowledge journal reviewers Neil C. Mitchell, John Smellie, and associate editor Pierre-Simon Ross for their suggestions that greatly improved the quality of the paper.

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Correspondence to Alessandro Bosman.

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Editorial responsibility: P-S Ross

Electronic supplementary material

Fig. 1 ESM

Gradient map of the ‘a’ā lava delta built on 6 March 2007. (JPEG 1259 kb)

Fig. 2 ESM

Zoom on the lava flows shown in the inset of Fig. 5. (JPEG 715 kb)

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Bosman, A., Casalbore, D., Romagnoli, C. et al. Formation of an ‘a’ā lava delta: insights from time-lapse multibeam bathymetry and direct observations during the Stromboli 2007 eruption. Bull Volcanol 76, 838 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-014-0838-2

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Keywords

  • Multibeam
  • Scuba dives
  • Submarine volcanic landform
  • Instability processes
  • Hazards
  • Lava delta