The Tancitaro is an andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano located in the Michoacán Guanajuato volcanic field within the west-central portion of the trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The volcanism in this area is characterized by two composite volcanoes, the highest of which is the Tancitaro volcanic edifice (3840 m), some low angle lava cones and more than 1,000 monogenetic cinder cones. The distribution of the cinder cones is controlled by NE-SW active faults, although there are also additional faults with NNW-SSE trends along which some cones are aligned. The Tancitaro stratovolcano is located at the intersection of the tectonical structures that originate these alignments. All this geological activity has contributed to the gravitational instability of the volcano, leading to a huge sector collapse which produced the investigated debris avalanche. The collapse structure is an east-facing horseshoe-shaped crater (4 km wide and 5.3 km long), related with a large fan that was deposited within the Tepalcatepec depression. The deposit starts only 7 km downslope from the failure scar, it is 66 km long and covers an area of approximately 1155 km2. The landslide magnitude is about 20 km3 and it was firstly determined by the reconstruction of the paleo-edifice using a GIS software and then validated by the observation of significant outcrops. The fan was primarily formed by the deposit of this huge debris avalanche and subsequently by debris flow and fluvial deposits. Field investigations on the fan area highlighted the presence of two texturally distinct parts, which are referred to the 'block facies' and the 'matrix facies'. The first sedimentary structure is responsible for the typical hummock morphologies in the proximal area, as seen in many other debris avalanche deposits. Instead in the distal zones, the deposit is made up by the 'mixed block and matrix facies'. Blocks and megablocks, some of which are characterized by a jigsaw puzzle texture, gradually decrease in size until they disappear entirely in the most distal reaches. The granulometric analysis and the comparison between the debris avalanche of the Tancitaro and other collapses with similar morphometric features (vertical relief during runout, travel distance, volume and area of the deposit) indicate that the collapse was most likely not primed by any type of eruption, but rather triggered by a strong seismic shock that could have induced the failure of a portion of the edifice, already deeply altered by intense hydrothermal fluid circulation. It is also possible to hypothesize that mechanical fluidization may have been the mechanism controlling the long runout of the avalanche, as has been determined for other well-known events. The behavior of the Tancitaro debris avalanche was numerically modeled using the DAN-W code. By opportunely modifying the rheological parameters of the different models selectable within DAN, it was determined that the two-parameter 'Voellmy model' provides the best approximation of the avalanche movement. The Voellmy model produces the most realistic results in terms of runout distance, velocity and spatial distribution of the failed mass. Since the Tancitaro event was not witnessed directly, it is possible to infer approximate velocities only from comparisons with similar and documented events, namely the Mt. St. Helens debris avalanche occurred on May 18, 1980.

The large-scale debris avalanche from the Tancitaro Volcano (Mexico): characterization and modeling

Morelli S.;
2008-01-01

Abstract

The Tancitaro is an andesitic-dacitic stratovolcano located in the Michoacán Guanajuato volcanic field within the west-central portion of the trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt. The volcanism in this area is characterized by two composite volcanoes, the highest of which is the Tancitaro volcanic edifice (3840 m), some low angle lava cones and more than 1,000 monogenetic cinder cones. The distribution of the cinder cones is controlled by NE-SW active faults, although there are also additional faults with NNW-SSE trends along which some cones are aligned. The Tancitaro stratovolcano is located at the intersection of the tectonical structures that originate these alignments. All this geological activity has contributed to the gravitational instability of the volcano, leading to a huge sector collapse which produced the investigated debris avalanche. The collapse structure is an east-facing horseshoe-shaped crater (4 km wide and 5.3 km long), related with a large fan that was deposited within the Tepalcatepec depression. The deposit starts only 7 km downslope from the failure scar, it is 66 km long and covers an area of approximately 1155 km2. The landslide magnitude is about 20 km3 and it was firstly determined by the reconstruction of the paleo-edifice using a GIS software and then validated by the observation of significant outcrops. The fan was primarily formed by the deposit of this huge debris avalanche and subsequently by debris flow and fluvial deposits. Field investigations on the fan area highlighted the presence of two texturally distinct parts, which are referred to the 'block facies' and the 'matrix facies'. The first sedimentary structure is responsible for the typical hummock morphologies in the proximal area, as seen in many other debris avalanche deposits. Instead in the distal zones, the deposit is made up by the 'mixed block and matrix facies'. Blocks and megablocks, some of which are characterized by a jigsaw puzzle texture, gradually decrease in size until they disappear entirely in the most distal reaches. The granulometric analysis and the comparison between the debris avalanche of the Tancitaro and other collapses with similar morphometric features (vertical relief during runout, travel distance, volume and area of the deposit) indicate that the collapse was most likely not primed by any type of eruption, but rather triggered by a strong seismic shock that could have induced the failure of a portion of the edifice, already deeply altered by intense hydrothermal fluid circulation. It is also possible to hypothesize that mechanical fluidization may have been the mechanism controlling the long runout of the avalanche, as has been determined for other well-known events. The behavior of the Tancitaro debris avalanche was numerically modeled using the DAN-W code. By opportunely modifying the rheological parameters of the different models selectable within DAN, it was determined that the two-parameter 'Voellmy model' provides the best approximation of the avalanche movement. The Voellmy model produces the most realistic results in terms of runout distance, velocity and spatial distribution of the failed mass. Since the Tancitaro event was not witnessed directly, it is possible to infer approximate velocities only from comparisons with similar and documented events, namely the Mt. St. Helens debris avalanche occurred on May 18, 1980.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11576/2690152
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