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Solid Earth An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union

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© Author(s) 2016. This work is distributed
under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Research article
19 Dec 2016
Review status
A revision of this discussion paper was accepted for the journal Solid Earth (SE) and is expected to appear here in due course.
Inelastic compaction and permeability evolution in volcanic rock
Jamie I. Farquharson, Patrick Baud, and Michael J. Heap Institut de Physique de Globe de Strasbourg (UMR 7516 CNRS), EO ST, Université de Strasbourg, France
Abstract. Active volcanoes are mechanically dynamic environments, and edifice-forming material may often be subjected to significant amounts of stress and strain. It is understood that porous volcanic rock can compact inelastically under a wide range of in situ conditions. In this contribution, we explore the evolution of porosity and permeability – critical properties influencing the style and magnitude of volcanic activity – as a function of inelastic compaction of porous andesite under triaxial conditions. Progressive strain accumulation is associated with progressive porosity loss. The efficiency of compaction was found to be related to the effective confining pressure under which deformation occurred: at higher effective pressure, more porosity was lost for any given amount of strain. Permeability evolution is more complex, with small amounts of stress-induced compaction (< 0.05, i.e. less than 5 % reduction in sample length) yielding an increase in permeability under all effective pressures tested, occasionally by almost one order of magnitude. This phenomenon is considered here to be the result of improved connectivity of formerly isolated porosity during triaxial loading. This effect is then overshadowed by a decrease in permeability with further inelastic strain accumulation, especially notable at high strains (> 0.20) where samples may undergo a reduction in permeability by two orders of magnitude relative to their initial values. A physical limit to compaction is discussed, which we suggest is echoed in a limit to the potential for permeability reduction in compacting volcanic rock. Compiled literature data illustrate that at high strain (both in the brittle and ductile regimes), porosity ϕ and permeability k tend to converge towards intermediate values (i.e. 0.10 ≤ ϕ ≤ 0.20; 10–14 ≤ k ≤10–13 m2). These results are discussed in light of their potential ramifications for impacting edifice outgassing – and in turn, eruptive activity – at active volcanoes.

Citation: Farquharson, J. I., Baud, P., and Heap, M. J.: Inelastic compaction and permeability evolution in volcanic rock, Solid Earth Discuss., doi:10.5194/se-2016-166, in review, 2016.
Jamie I. Farquharson et al.
Interactive discussionStatus: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version      Supplement - Supplement
RC1: 'Review of Farquharson et al.', Fabian Wadsworth, 09 Feb 2017 Printer-friendly Version 
EC1: 'Editor comment', Antonella Longo, 28 Feb 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
AC1: 'Response to editor's comment', Jamie Farquharson, 28 Mar 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
AC2: 'Response to reviewer's comment', Jamie Farquharson, 28 Mar 2017 Printer-friendly Version Supplement 
Jamie I. Farquharson et al.
Jamie I. Farquharson et al.


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Publications Copernicus
Short summary
In volcanic rock, "permeability" is the property that tells us how efficiently fluids such as gas or water can travel through cracks and frozen bubbles in the rock (its "porosity"). It is important in the context of volcanic activity. This study addresses how permeability evolves under a range of mechanical experimental conditions. We show that with a small amount of porosity loss (compaction), permeability can increase. However, with more compaction, permeability can decrease significantly.
In volcanic rock, "permeability" is the property that tells us how efficiently fluids such as...