A Fresh Perspective on Intricate Volcanic Plumbing Systems in EOS
In November 2019 85 scientists from all over the world met in Malargüe in the Mendoza Province of Argentina for the LASI6 workshop. (LASI’s official title is “The Physical Geology of Subvolcanic Systems: Laccoliths, Sills and Dykes.”). The aim was to clarify the state of the art in our understanding of volcanic plumbing systems(VPS) and to guide future research. AGU magazine EOS recently published an article by Olivier Galland and partners describing the outcome of the meeting.
Volcanic rock intrusions (vertical brown cliffs) in El Manzano, Mendoza Province, Argentina, contrast with the surrounding organic-rich shale, an exposed continuation of the Río Grande Valley oil fields below the surface 10 kilometers to the east [Rabbel et al., 2018; Spacapan et al., 2020]. Credit: Olivier Galland
The 2-day scientific meeting preceded a spectacular 3-day field workshop through the geological wonders of the Andes of the Neuquén Basin, where outstanding outcrops of former VPS, now extinct or “frozen,” are exposed thanks to tectonic uplift and the semidesert climate. Discussions during the meeting and field trip about our current understanding of VPS highlighted distinct schools of thought.
The LASI6 meeting highlighted how integrating field observations of exposed frozen VPS, new modeling approaches, and industry data can help considerably in unraveling the complex structures and dynamics of active volcanic plumbing systems. Volcano geophysicists and geodesists must collaborate with field geologists, physicists, and industry to continue improving physical interpretations of geophysical and geodetic data measured in active volcanoes.
Through such efforts, we should emerge with a better understanding of and capability to predict the behavior of hazardous volcanic systems. And perhaps, after future eruptions, when scientists are asked what will happen next, we will have an answer.