Triggering of a volcanic dome collapse by rainwater infiltration

Peter D Hicks, Adrian J Matthews, Mark J Cooker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


The thermodynamic processes in a one-dimensional model of a porous lava dome are considered in the presence of a rising magmatic gas flux through the void spaces and rainfall interacting with the dome surface. The steady state surface temperature of the dome depends on both magmatic gas mass flux and rainfall rate. A critical rainfall rate is determined, that cools the dome surface to 100°C. Rainfall rates above this critical value allow liquid infiltration into the void spaces of the dome, thus restricting the escape of magmatic gas. A model which restricts the gas flow through the surface predicts internal gas pressures much higher than the overburden pressure in the top few meters, approximately one hour after the onset of rainfall. For a marginally stable dome, this could cause small Vulcanian explosions, which (depending on their location) could trigger a dome collapse, on a timescale consistent with observations.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberB09212
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth
Issue numberB9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2010


  • lava dome collapse
  • volcano-rainwater interactions
  • Soufriere Hills Volcano
  • Montserrat


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