Combining petrology and seismology to unravel the plumbing system of a typical arc volcano: An example from Marapi, West Sumatra, Indonesia

Publication type

Journal Article

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Research Team

Isotope Geochemistry


Marapi in Sumatra is characterized by frequent short-lived explosions and small eruptions (Volcanic Explosivity Index 1–2) and in the past 250 years, the volcano has erupted >60 times. Recent volcanic bombs and the presence of broadband seismic stations lead us to reconstruct the plumbing system of the volcano through an interdisciplinary study. A petrologic study of the summit bombs uses pyroxene, plagioclase and glass compositions to obtain pressures and temperatures of magma storage as well as identify pre-eruptive processes. Two-pyroxene geothermobarometry provides pre-eruptive crystallization pressure estimates of 4–7 kbar (∼15–26 km). Compositional and textural analyses of plagioclase and pyroxene crystals indicate that mafic magma recharge was followed by mixing with the resident magma and renewed crystallization prior to eruption. In order to further image the magma reservoir, we performed a joint inversion of teleseismic receiver functions and surface waves (H/V ratio). The inversion reveals a low velocity zone (LVZ) at depths of 15–21 km that has 7 ± 3% shear velocity reduction, corresponding to an estimated melt fraction of 5 ± 2%. The depth of this LVZ overlaps with the depth of magma storage estimated from petrology, constraining it with high confidence. Such a combined interdisciplinary study provides valuable information for evaluating future periods of unrest, laying out a framework for the interpretation of incoming monitoring data and signals to look out for in order to improve eruption forecasts.


Marapi, melt fraction, Plumbing system, pyroxene thermobarometry, receiver function

Publication Details


Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems





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