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Conditions and threshold for magma transfer in the layered upper crust: Insights from experimental models



[1] Magma transfer, i.e., dike propagation, is partly controlled by Young's modulus (elasticity) contrasts (ratio upper layer to lower layer modulus) in the host rock. Here we try to better constrain the elasticity contrasts controlling the propagation velocity of dikes and their arrest. We simulate dike propagation in layered elastic media with different elasticity contrasts. Salted gelatin and water represent host rock and magma, respectively. For common density ratios between magma and host rock (~1.1), velocity variations are observed and a critical threshold in the elasticity contrast between layers results in the Young's modulus ratio of 2.1 ± 0.6. Naturally occurring elasticity contrasts can be much higher than this experimental threshold, suggesting that dike arrest due to heterogeneous elastic host rock properties is more frequent than expected. Examples of recently deflected or stalled dikes inside volcanoes and the common presence of high-velocity bodies below volcanoes suggest that better defining elasticity contrasts below volcanoes helps in forecasting eruptions.

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