Abstract

We conducted scaled analogue sandbox models of caldera formation in order to understand the effects of chamber depth and orientation on the spatial and temporal development of calderas. Dry sand contained in a 1-m-diameter cylinder served as a crustal rock analogue, and a water-filled 0.6-m-diameter rubber bladder served as an analogue magma chamber. Scaling parameters included a length ratio (L*) of 2.5 × 10–5 and a stress ratio (σ*) of 1.8–2.4 × 10–5. In contrast to some previous analogue models, the viscosity of the fluid in the chamber and its withdrawal rate were properly scaled. Generally, deformation began with broad sagging, followed by an arcuate or linear outward-dipping fault that formed on one side of the caldera. This fault propagated laterally around the caldera in both directions, sometimes joining other faults, and typically forming an overall polygonal structure. As subsidence continued, the caldera grew incrementally outward and progressively formed a series of concentric outward-dipping faults. Lastly, a peripheral zone of extension and pronounced sagging, and commonly an inward- dipping outer fault related to extension, developed at the surface. As the depth of the chamber increased, (1) the area of faulting decreased, (2) the symmetry of the caldera was affected, and (3) the coherence of the subsiding block decreased. Tilting the chamber caused highly asymmetric subsidence to occur. In this case, faults formed first where the bladder was shallowest. Subsidence then shifted rapidly to where the bladder was deepest, producing an elongate trapdoor caldera that was deepest where the bladder was deepest. Our experiments highlight the roles of sagging and faulting during caldera subsidence. Surface fault patterns both in our experiments and at natural calderas are frequently not circular. The aspect ratio of the block above the magma chamber controls the shape of the caldera, which is frequently polygonal. The faults at natural calderas determine locations and migration of eruptive vents, the degree of subsidence, the style of postcal dera resurgent magmatism, and the extent of hydrothermal circulation. Our experiments reveal details of how calderas grow outward incrementally and demonstrate that asymmetric subsidence along linear and arcuate faults is common to many calderas.

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