Elastic models of magma reservoir mechanics: A key tool for investigating planetary volcanism

Eric B. Grosfils, Patrick J. Mcgovern, Patricia M. Gregg, Gerald A. Galgana, Debra M. Hurwitz, Sylvan M. Long, Shelley R. Chestler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding how shallow reservoirs store and redirect magma is critical for deciphering the relationship between surface and subsurface volcanic activity on the terrestrial planets. Complementing field, laboratory and remote sensing analyses, elastic models provide key insights into the mechanics of magma reservoir inflation and rupture, and hence into commonly observed volcanic phenomena including edifice growth, circumferential intrusion, radial dyke swarm emplacement and caldera formation. Based on finite element model results, the interplay between volcanic elements - such as magma reservoir geometry, host rock environment (with an emphasis on understanding how host rock pore pressure assumptions affect model predictions), mechanical layering, and edifice loading with and without flexure - dictates the overpressure required for rupture, the location and orientation of initial fracturing and intrusion, and the associated surface uplift. Model results are either insensitive to, or can readily incorporate, material and parameter variations characterizing different planetary environments, and they also compare favourably with predictions derived from rheologically complex, time-dependent formulations for a surprisingly diverse array of volcanic scenarios. These characteristics indicate that elastic models are a powerful and useful tool for exploring many fundamental questions in planetary volcanology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)239-267
Number of pages29
JournalGeological Society Special Publication
StatePublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Water Science and Technology
  • Ocean Engineering
  • Geology


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