Shallow-level sill emplacement can uplift Earth's surface via forced folding, providing insight into the location and size of potential volcanic eruptions. Linking the structure and dynamics of ground deformation to sill intrusion is thus critical in volcanic hazard assessment. This is challenging, however, because (1) active intrusions cannot be directly observed, meaning that we rely on transient host-rock deformation patterns to model their structure; and (2) where ancient sill-fold structure can be observed, magmatism and deformation has long since ceased. To address this problem, we combine structural and dynamic analyses of the Alu dome, Ethiopia, a 3.5-km-long, 346-m-high, elliptical dome of outward-dipping, tilted lava flows cross-cut by a series of normal faults. Vents distributed around Alu feed lava flows of different ages that radiate out from or deflect around its periphery. These observations, coupled with the absence of bounding faults or a central vent, imply that Alu is not a horst or a volcano, as previously thought, but is instead a forced fold. Interferometric synthetic aperture radar data captured a dynamic growth phase of Alu during a nearby eruption in A.D. 2008, with periods of uplift and subsidence previously attributed to intrusion of a tabular sill at 1 km depth. To localize volcanism beyond its periphery, we contend that Alu is the first forced fold to be recognized to be developing above an incrementally emplaced saucer-shaped sill, as opposed to a tabular sill or laccolith.
- Received 28 November 2016.
- Revision received 19 January 2017.
- Accepted 20 January 2017.
- ©The Authors
Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.