Catastrophic collapse of steep volcano flanks threatens lives at stratovolcanoes around the world. Although destabilizing shallow intrusion of magma into the edifice accompanies some collapses (e.g., Mount St. Helens), others have occurred without eruption of juvenile magmatic materials (e.g., Bandai). These latter collapses can be difficult to anticipate. Historic collapses without magmatic eruption are associated with shallow hydrothermal groundwater systems at the time of collapse. Through the use of numerical models of heat and groundwater flow, I evaluate the efficacy of hydrothermally driven collapse. Heating from remote magma intrusion at depth can generate temporarily elevated pore-fluid pressures that propagate upward into an edifice. Effective-stress deformation modeling shows that these pressures are capable of destabilizing the core of an edifice, resulting in massive, deep-seated collapse. Far-field pressurization only occurs with specific rock hydraulic properties; however, data from numerous hydrothermal systems illustrate that this process can transpire in realistic settings. ?? 2004 Geological Society of America.
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Massive collapse of volcano edifices triggered by hydrothermal pressurization