Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Research article
24 Jan 2014
Research article |  | 24 Jan 2014

The permeability and elastic moduli of tuff from Campi Flegrei, Italy: implications for ground deformation modelling

M. J. Heap, P. Baud, P. G. Meredith, S. Vinciguerra, and T. Reuschlé

Abstract. The accuracy of ground deformation modelling at active volcanoes is a principal requirement in volcanic hazard mitigation. However, the reliability of such models relies on the accuracy of the rock physical property (permeability and elastic moduli) input parameters. Unfortunately, laboratory-derived values on representative rocks are usually rare. To this end we have performed a systematic laboratory study on the influence of pressure and temperature on the permeability and elastic moduli of samples from the two most widespread lithified pyroclastic deposits at the Campi Flegrei volcanic district, Italy. Our data show that the water permeability of Neapolitan Yellow Tuff and a tuff from the Campanian Ignimbrite differ by about 1.5 orders of magnitude. As pressure (depth) increases beyond the critical point for inelastic pore collapse (at an effective pressure of 10–15 MPa, or a depth of about 750 m), permeability and porosity decrease significantly, and ultrasonic wave velocities and dynamic elastic moduli increase significantly. Increasing the thermal stressing temperature increases the permeability and decreases the ultrasonic wave velocities and dynamic elastic moduli of the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff; whereas the tuff from the Campanian Ignimbrite remains unaffected. This difference is due to the presence of thermally unstable zeolites within the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff. For both rocks we also find, under the same pressure conditions, that the dynamic (calculated from ultrasonic wave velocities) and static (calculated from triaxial stress-strain data) elastic moduli differ significantly. The choice of elastic moduli in ground deformation modelling is therefore an important consideration. While we urge that these new laboratory data should be considered in routine ground deformation modelling, we highlight the challenges for ground deformation modelling based on the heterogeneous nature (vertically and laterally) of the rocks that comprise the caldera at Campi Flegrei.