ILP taks force II: volcanoes and society

Project leader
– Prof. Alessandro Tibaldi (Italy)

Co-leaders
– Prof. A. U. Dogan, Dept. of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering, The University of Iowa, USA;
– Prof. B. Van Wyk de Vries, Lab. Magmas et Volcanos, Université Clermont Ferrand II, France;
– Dr D. Tormey, ENTRIX, Ca, USA.

Participants
– Dr. Fabio L. Bonali (Milan-Bicocca State University);
– Dr. Claudia Corazzato (Milan-Bicocca State University);
– Prof. Federico Pasquaré Mariotto (Insubria State University).

Official page of the project.

Overview
Thanks to the successful outcomes achieved during the last five years of ILP Task Force II, it is now possible to propose a broader approach to the study of the volcanic environment that incorporates its relevance for society. We envisage 4 main topics to be addressed in the next five years under the umbrella of ILP and other national/ international grants (in part already funded); 1) Study of the volcano-tectonics relationships: several recent works, including a publication by T.F. II in the ILP’s IYPE book, highlight the wide gamut of tectonic settings that can accompany crustal magma emplacement, spanning from transcurrent to contractional and extensional deformation. Collection of field data coupled with numerical and analogue modelling will be conducted in order to better understand this topic that has also implications in terms of seismic and volcanic hazard/risk assessment. 2) Analysis of lateral collapses in volcanoes: this represents the continuation of the main topic that has been successfully developed by the past T.F. II, and is related to the study of the causes that trigger lateral instability and failure of volcanoes and the phenomena that accompany this process, including impact assessment and mitigation strategies. 3) Magma intrusion mechanisms: this is of main concern for the understanding of magma chamber formation and magma propagation to the surface and has a major relevance for volcanic risk assessment and geothermal resource exploration. We plan to develop field studies on eroded volcanoes in order to collect evidence of magma paths below and into volcanic edifices, as well as to carry out field surveys on more recent/active volcanoes and volcanic-rift systems. These data will be combined mainly with cutting-edge analogue modelling. 4) Minerals and human health: this represents a new topic of major concern at the international level and regards the minerals produced mostly under diagenetic and hydrothermal processes. It is well known that the air pollution derived from minerals like asbestos can produce severe human diseases, but in the last years several other minerals have been identified as presenting a significant human health risk, in some cases even more carcinogenic than asbestos. These minerals (e.g. erionite series, fluoroedenite, etc.) can form under specific conditions of P, T, and pH, during geologic processes that involve tectonic motions, volcanism and hydrothermal fluids, which are not yet well understood. The dispersion in the air of these minerals is caused by anthropogenic activities as well as by natural geologic phenomena, also linked to climate changes, such as enhanced erosion. Our research will develop a procedure for preventing possible outbreaks of mineral-induced cancer by favouring collaborations between Earth scientists and physicians, and proactive identification of hazard zones. As society addresses issues related to energy, water, and the environment, Earth scientists must play a wider role and have a seat at the decision-making table in order to provide their perspective and knowledge.