By Nicolas Le Corvec, Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand
Volcanic and Igneous Plumbing Systems – Understanding Magma Transport, Storage and Evolution in the Earth’s Crust is a new book released by Elsevier. Edited by Ass. Prof. Steffi Burchardt from Uppsala University and the Centre for Natural Hazards and Disaster Science (CNDS), this new book gathers an exciting interdisciplinary collection of topics. It covers a broad but complete physical, structural and petrological story about the mechanisms of magma transport within the crust, magma accumulation and evolution in storage zones, and magma ascent towards the surface, leading to the deformation and potential instabilities of volcanic edifices from a variety of geodynamical settings at the surface of the Earth.
The book, introduced by the editor S. Burchardt and divided into twelve sections, each of them written by the volcanic crème de la crème, is made to become an excellent reference for those like me who are interested in the broad concepts of magmato-volcano-tectonics. The storyline is neatly organized which helps the reader to immerse her/himself within the deepest part of the system and gradually rise with the magma towards the surface. Through our travel upward, we learn the different and fundamental aspects of magma propagation, from crustal to more primitive melts, i.e. from slow ductile deformation (Chap. 2 by Cruden and Weinderg) to the most effective transfer mechanism known as dyking (Chap. 3 by Kavanagh). The continuous emplacement of magmas within the crust’ subsurface leads to the formation of intricate networks of subterraneous magmatic sheets or swarms (Chap. 4 by Burchardt et al.) themselves forming complex volcanic systems at the surface of planets. The temporal development of such swarms is today an important matter of debate that inter-disciplinary studies are trying to resolve. Not all magmas reach the surface, intrusion to extrusion ratios span from 1/10 to 1/100, leading to a large accumulation of material within the crust. Chap. 5 by Galland et al. focuses on individual horizontal intrusions, known as sills, from which Morgan in Chap. 6 extrapolates towards the growth of large magma bodies. Both Chapters enable the reader to perceive the mechanical and structural complexity of continuously injecting new material within a solid medium and again how time is such an important factor controlling the evolution of these end-member systems. Magma bodies or reservoirs are literal melting pots within which chemistry is queen. Magma accumulation can occur at all levels within the lithosphere, thus more or less influencing the signature of the melts passing through or residing for longer periods. Jerram et al. beautifully managed in Chap. 8 to present physical, petrological and chemical concepts of what are probably the most secretive and recondite backrooms of the planet. The development and life cycle of these reservoirs in the crust’ subsurface allows for 1) the formation of complex edifices at the Earth’s surface, 2) generation of important crustal deformation and 3) giant catastrophic events. Built above these reservoirs, stratovolcanoes (of any chemical composition) are by essence unstable edifices as explained by Delcamp et al. in Chap. 9, that evolve through a succession of growth and failure phases greatly impacting the shallow and deep parts of the magmatic plumbing system. The reconnaissance of deformation patterns, however has allowed the scientific community to better depict the behaviour of VIPS and the propagation of magma with the crust’ subsurface. These signals and their interpretation are summarized by Sigmundsson and al. in Chapter 11 with a special emphasis on Iceland and its many incredible eruptions. The use of these signals have allowed to recognize the existence of gigantic magmatic structures that are the source for some of the largest eruptions on Earth. The complex existence of caldera volcanoes are portrayed theoretical and practically by Kennedy et al. in Chap. 10 using petrological, geophysical and geological data. Finally, each of these individual systems all belong to a larger global tectonic environment so specific to Earth, acting a bit like the background beat of a song on the generation, transport and eruption of magmas and the stability of volcanic complex. Chap. 7, by van Wyk de Vries father and son, describes the relationship between volcanism and tectonism within the main geodynamic environments but also show how the shallow tectonic, lithologic and topographic structures influence magmatism and volcanism.
This is only a very succinct and personal view of the total amount of information provided by the book. Overall, I very enjoyed the easiness of reading each chapter even not being an expert in all the topics. For me, the book principal strength resides in the excellent connection made between the theoretical aspects and the field examples, which is the essence of our work and an amazing reminder of the complexity of the systems we are studying. The book is also very well illustrated, figures properly fit the text and are nicely designed, without too much information that could obscure their message. While some sketches seem over-simplistic, I believe they also reflect our lack of our understanding on the geometries of VIPS.
The organisation of a book is always a difficult part, and chapters can always been moved endlessly to best match the content of each part. I feel that the chapters of the second part of the book are a bit isolated from the initial storyline depicting the upward propagation of magmas towards the surface. But the book isn’t written to be a novel, rather each section can be read independently without the need to look for previous information. Finally and that’s a personal point of view, I missed seeing a bit more references about planetary VIPS within the different chapters or as its own.
Nonetheless, I consider that this book by the quality and the plurality of its science on Volcanic and Igneous Plumbing Systems should be part of every lab’s library.
Nicolas Le Corvec is a postdoctoral researcher at the Observatoire de Physique du Globe de Clermont-Ferrand. His research focuses on the investigation of volcano-tectonic relationships in different type of volcanism, with a particular focus on analysing the interaction between magmatic activity and structural deformation. Nicolas uses a range of techniques, developing numerical and analogue models from fieldwork and remote sensing campaigns. To find out more about his exciting work read his recent Nature paper here: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03865-x