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Semi-automatic delimitation of volcanic edifice boundaries: Validation and application to the cinder cones of the Tancitaro–Nueva Italia region (Michoacán–Guanajuato Volcanic Field, Mexico)

DOI: 10.1016/j.geomorph.2014.05.002
  • Cinder Cones
  • Volcano Landform
  • Digital Elevation Model
  • Vent Distribution
  • Morphometry
  • Michoacán–Guanajuato Volcanic Field
  • Computer Science


Abstract The shape and size of monogenetic volcanoes are the result of complex evolutions involving the interaction of eruptive activity, structural setting and degradational processes. Morphological studies of cinder cones aim to evaluate volcanic hazard on the Earth and to decipher the origins of various structures on extraterrestrial planets. Efforts have been dedicated so far to the characterization of the cinder cone morphology in a systematic and comparable manner. However, manual delimitation is time-consuming and influenced by the user subjectivity but, on the other hand, automatic boundary delimitation of volcanic terrains can be affected by irregular topography. In this work, the semi-automatic delimitation of volcanic edifice boundaries proposed by Grosse et al. (2009) for stratovolcanoes was tested for the first time over monogenetic cinder cones. The method, based on the integration of the DEM-derived slope and curvature maps, is applied here to the Tancitaro–Nueva Italia region of the Michoacán–Guanajuato Volcanic Field (Mexico), where 309 Plio-Quaternary cinder cones are located. The semiautomatic extraction allowed identification of 137 of the 309 cinder cones of the Tancitaro–Nueva Italia region, recognized by means of the manual extraction. This value corresponds to the 44.3% of the total number of cinder cones. Analysis on vent alignments allowed us to identify NE–SW vent alignments and cone elongations, consistent with a NE–SW σmax and a NW–SE σmin. Constructing a vent intensity map, based on computing the number of vents within a radius r centred on each vent of the data set and choosing r=5km, four vent intensity maxima were derived: one is positioned in the NW with respect to the Volcano Tancitaro, one in the NE, one to the S and another vent cluster located at the SE boundary of the studied area. The spacing of centroid of each cluster (24km) can be related to the thickness of the crust (9–10km) overlying the magma reservoir.

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