In geodynamic numerical models of volcanic systems, the volcanic basement hosting the magmatic reservoir is often assumed to exhibit constant elastic parameters with a sharp transition from the host rocks to the magmatic reservoir. We assess this assumption by deriving an empirical relation between elastic parameters and temperature for Icelandic basalts by conducting a set of triaxial compression experiments between 200 °C and 1000 °C. Results show a significant decrease of Young's modulus from ∼38 GPa to less than 4.7 GPa at around 1000 °C. Based on these laboratory data, we develop a 2D axisymmetric finite-element model including temperature-dependent elastic properties of the volcanic basement. As a case study, we use the Snæfellsjökull volcanic system, Western Iceland to evaluate pressure differences in the volcanic edifice and basement due to glacial unloading of the volcano. First, we calculate the temperature field throughout the model and assign elastic properties accordingly. Then we assess unloading-driven pressure differences in the magma chamber at various depths in models with and without temperature-dependent elastic parameters. With constant elastic parameters and a sharp transition between basement and magma chamber we obtain results comparable to other studies. However, pressure changes due to surface unloading become smaller when using more realistic temperature-dependent elastic properties. We ascribe this subdued effect to a transition zone around the magma chamber, which is still solid rock but with relatively low Young's modulus due to high temperatures. We discuss our findings in the light of volcanic processes in proximity to the magma chamber, such as roof collapse, dyke injection, or deep hydrothermal circulation. Our results aim at quantifying the effects of glacial unloading on magma chamber dynamics and volcanic activity.
- finite-element modelling
- pressure change
- transition zone around magma chamber
- volcanic unloading