Catastrophic Collapse Features in Volcanic Terrains: Styles and Links to Subvolcanic Magma Systems

  • David B. HackerEmail author
  • Peter D. Rowley
  • Robert F. Biek
Part of the Advances in Volcanology book series (VOLCAN)


Catastrophic structural slope failures of large volcanic landforms, notably volcanoes, are among the most sudden agents of landscape change, producing large-scale landslide features. Some of these volcanic landslides rank among the largest and most devastating natural hazards encountered on Earth. Following the 1980 landslide and directed blast that destroyed the northern flank of Mount St. Helens, there has been an increased awareness and study of flank and sector collapses of stratovolcanoes worldwide. Collapse features have now been observed on hundreds of volcanoes and it is now widely accepted that such events are common recurrent phenomena during the evolution of many volcanoes. Although most studies of structural failure have concentrated on volcanoes, it is important to note that two other volcanic landforms in volcanic terrains have experienced collapse events at scales equivalent to, and sometimes exceeding, the scale of landslides on volcanoes. These include slope failures from intrusive laccoliths and from partial collapse of volcanic fields. Volcanic landslides from these less familiar sources share many morphological and textural similarities as landslides from volcanoes and could be mistaken as a volcano-derived deposit. Subvolcanic magma systems play an integral part in the collapse process from these three volcanic source types (volcanoes, laccoliths, and volcanic fields) by creating elevated landforms with steep slopes, aiding in destabilization of the slopes, and often triggering a slope failure. We therefore introduce a new concept that volcanic collapse landslide features should be viewed as involving multiple sources within volcanic terrains instead of from only volcanoes.



We gratefully acknowledge support from the Utah Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey (National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program) through a number of USGS STATEMAP grants, and the Kent State University Research Council. We also are grateful for generous cooperation and logistical support from the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Geological Survey through the BARCO (Basin and Range-Colorado Plateau transition area) project. We would also like to thank Lee Siebert and Christoph Breitkreuz for helpful reviews of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • David B. Hacker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Peter D. Rowley
    • 2
  • Robert F. Biek
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeologyKent State UniversityKentUSA
  2. 2.Geologic Mapping Inc.New HarmonyUSA
  3. 3.Utah Geological SurveySalt Lake CityUSA

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