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Edifice and substrata deformation induced by intrusive complexes and gravitational loading in the Mull volcano (Scotland)

  • Mathieu, Lucie1
  • Vries, Benjamin van Wyk de2
  • 1 Trinity College Dublin, Volcanic and Magmatic Processes group, Museum Building, Dublin 2, Ireland , Dublin 2 (Ireland)
  • 2 Université Blaise Pascal, Laboratoire de Magmas et Volcans, 5 rue Kessler, Clermont-Ferrand, 63038, France , Clermont-Ferrand (France)
Published Article
Bulletin of Volcanology
Publication Date
May 28, 2009
DOI: 10.1007/s00445-009-0295-5
Springer Nature


It is likely that the structure of a volcanic edifice can be significantly modified by deformation caused by large, shallow intrusions. Such deformation may interact with that caused by volcano loading. We explore such intrusion-related and loading-related deformation with field evidence and analogue models. To do this we have chosen the eroded Palaeogene Mull volcano (Scotland) that had a major edifice, has well exposed intrusions and significant deformation. There are thin Mesozoic sedimentary rocks forming ductile layers below the volcano, but their thickness is insufficient to allow the gravitational spreading of the volcanic edifice, especially when considering that a thick lava pile covers them. Thus intrusive push may have been the driving force for deformation. The Mull activity migrated toward the northwest, forming three successive intrusive complexes (Centres 1, 2 and 3). Our detailed fieldwork reveals that deformation due to these was accommodated on three levels; along thrust planes in lava sequences, along a décollement located in a thin clay-rich sediment succession and in basement schists. A relative chronology has been established between different groups of structures using dyke and sill cross-cutting relationships. Centre 1 is surrounded by a fold and thrust belt leading to radial expansion. In contrast, Centre 2 and 3 are connected to thrusts located to the south and east, bounded by strike-slip faults, leading to expansion to the southeast. The migration of centres and the directed sliding of the edifice may be related to the presence to the southeast of low-resistance Dalradian basement that failed significantly during growth of Centres 2 and 3. To study the observed relationships we have carried out scaled analogue models. Models are made with fine powder intruded by a viscous magma analogue. The models show an intimate relationship between intrusion growth, uplift of the volcano and subsequent flank sliding. The structures produced can be compared with Mull and suggest that the Centre 1 thrust belt probably formed following edifice gravitational sliding as a consequence of the uplift associated with Centre 1 formation. Centre 2 and 3 are responsible for the sector sliding of the edifice flank toward the southeast as the magmatic complex became more asymmetric. The features observed at Mull and in the models are similar to those seen on active volcanoes, such as Etna, providing a structural framework for their deformation and evolution.

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