Crustal deformation in the mid-May 1991 crisis preceding the extrusion of a dacite lava dome at Unzen volcano, Japan

Ken'Ichiro Yamashina, Hiroshi Shimizu

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22 Citations (Scopus)


Tilt observations at FG1 station located about 680 m west of the central crater of Unzen volcano, southwestern Japan, revealed details about the process of magma ascent during the mid-May 1991 crisis, just before the appearance of a lava dome. Crustal deformations measured during this period can be interpreted by a combination of upward growth of a buried magma column and lateral intrusion of a dike, modeled by a vertical line source and a planer tensile dislocation in an elastic half space. Marked change in tilt was observed at first in the EW direction at FG1 during May 11-14, suggesting the ascent of a magma column with a diameter of about 40 m from about 300 m to 160 m in depth beneath the central crater. After the interruption of the rise of the magma column, magma began to intrude laterally as a dike on May 15 toward approximately the N80°W direction. This resulted in a large tilt change essentially in the NS component at FG1. The horizontal extent of the dike might have exceeded 400 m in a few days with a thickness of about 6 m. On May 17, the magma column started to rise again, probably because the impediment to magma ascent was fractured by the growth of the dike. The top of the magma column finally reached to the crater bottom probably on May 19, and a new lava dome was actually observed on May 20. After which, the remarkable upward tilt to the south at FG1 due to the dike intrusion decreased rapidly. The deformation after May 20 can be interpreted by a gradual increase in the thickness of the dike up to 13 m by the end of May 1991. Although large errors are inevitable in estimated values because of a lack of sufficient data, the present results confirm the importance of making continuous observations of crustal deformation near the summit areas of active volcanoes in order to clarify the underground processes of magma movement leading to eruptions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-55
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number1-4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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