Stress Control of Dike Deflection and Flank Eruption at Akaroa Volcano, New Zealand

Robert T. Goldman, John A. Albright, Darren M. Gravley, Eric B. Grosfils, Patricia M. Gregg, Samuel J. Hampton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the stress evolution of extinct volcanoes can improve efforts to forecast flank eruptions on active systems. Field, petrographic, and seismic data are combined with numerical modeling to investigate the paleo-stress field of New Zealand's Akaroa Volcano, or Akaroa Volcanic Complex. Field mapping identifies 86 radially oriented dikes and seven lava domes found only within a narrow elevation range along Akaroa's erosional crater rim. These observations suggest that crater rim dike emplacement resulted from lateral deflection of vertically ascending intrusions from a centralized magma source, which in turn may have facilitated formation of the lava domes, as well as two scoria cones. We postulate that dike deflection occurred along a stress barrier, as neither a compositional change nor structural boundary are present. We use a finite element model (FEM) simulating Akaroa to test how different factors may have influenced the system's stress state and dike geometry. Elastic, non-flexural (“roller”) model configurations containing a large, oblate, and shallow magma chamber produce stress barriers most conducive to radial dike emplacement along Akaroa's crater rim. These configurations also simulate rapid edifice construction above a preexisting lithospheric “bulge.” Conversely, simulating flexural stresses exerted on the lithosphere by Akaroa's large mass hinder rather than promote radial dike emplacement. Temperature-dependent viscoelastic relaxation promotes gradual increases in stress barrier elevation, though this effect is strongly dependent on magma chamber parameters. These results suggest that Akaroa was constructed rapidly (within ∼100 kyr) prior to crater rim dike emplacement, which occurred throughout the volcano's remaining active lifespan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere2022JB024305
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022


  • Akaroa
  • Comsol
  • FEM
  • dike deflection
  • flank eruption
  • stress barrier

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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