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Small-scale slope instability on the submarine flanks of insular volcanoes: the case-study of the Sciara del Fuoco slope (Stromboli)

Abstract

Small-scale landslides affecting insular and coastal volcanoes are a relevant geohazard for the surrounding infrastructures and communities, because they can directly impact them or generate local but devastating tsunamis, as demonstrated by several historical accounts. Here, a review of such landslides and associated predisposing/triggering mechanisms is presented, with particular reference to the submarine volcanic flanks. We take into account, as a case study, the instability phenomena occurring on the Sciara del Fuoco (SdF, hereafter), a 2-km wide subaerial-submarine collapse scar filled by volcaniclastic products, which form the NW flank of the Stromboli volcano. Because of its steepness (> 30°) and the high amount of loose volcanic material funneled from the summit crater towards the sea, the submarine part of the SdF is prone to instability phenomena recurring at different spatial and temporal scale. Particularly, landsides with a volume of some millions of cubic meters, as the 2002 tsunamigenic landslide, can repeatedly affect the submarine slope. Based on the integration of 11 years (2002–2013) of morpho-bathymetric monitoring of the SdF with geotechnical characterization of volcaniclastic and lava flow materials, stability analyses of the subaerial and submarine slope and previous literature studies, we analyze the role of different triggering mechanisms in controlling the occurrence and size of submarine slope failures at the SdF, such as dykes intrusion as occurred in 2002 or the emplacement of a large delta as occurred in 2007.

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Acknowledgements

Marine surveys around Stromboli have been carried out in the framework of researches financed by the Italian INGV (National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology) and DPC (Civil Protection Department). Crews of R/V Urania, Universitatis and Thetis are gratefully acknowledged along with those people taking part in the surveys. Two anonymous reviewers and Federico Di Traglia are gratefully acknowledged for their comments that helped improving the quality of the paper.

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Correspondence to Daniele Casalbore.

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Casalbore, D., Passeri, F., Tommasi, P. et al. Small-scale slope instability on the submarine flanks of insular volcanoes: the case-study of the Sciara del Fuoco slope (Stromboli). Int J Earth Sci (Geol Rundsch) 109, 2643–2658 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00531-020-01853-5

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Keywords

  • Multibeam bathymetry
  • Slope stability
  • Tsunamigenic landslide
  • Lava delta
  • Time-lapse surveys
  • Stromboli
  • Geotechnical modelling