James, Michael and Varley, Nick (2012) Identification of structural controls in an active lava dome with high resolution DEMs: Volcán de Colima, Mexico. Geophysical Research Letters, 39. ISSN 0094-8276
Monitoring the topography of active lava domes is critical for detecting changes that may trigger or influence collapse or explosive activity. Internal dome structure and conditions are more difficult to elucidate, but also play vital roles. Here, we describe the exposure (following an explosion) of significant scarps in the active dome at Volcán de Colima, Mexico, that are interpreted as evidence of brittle failure planes and a complex internal dome morphology. In the first use of automated 3D computer vision reconstruction techniques (structure-from-motion and multi-view stereo, SfM-MVS) on an active volcanic dome, we derive high resolution surface models from oblique and archive photographs taken with a consumer camera. The resulting 3D models were geo-referenced using features identified in a web-sourced orthoimage; no ground-based measurements were required. In December 2010, the dome (2.14×106 m3) had a flat upper surface, reflecting an overall ductile emplacement regime. Between then and May 2011, a period of low explosivity was accompanied by a small volume loss (0.4×105 m3) and arcuate steps appeared in the dome surface, suggesting the presence of localized planes of weakness. The complex array of summit scarps was exposed following a significant explosion in June 2011, and is interpreted to be the surface expression of fault planes in the dome. The 1-m resolution DEMs indicated that the region of greatest volume loss was not coincident with the assumed location of the conduit, and that heterogeneity within the dome may have been important during the June explosion.
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