Investigating collapse structures in oceanic islands using magnetotelluric surveys: The case of Fogo Island in Cape Verde

F. J. Martínez-Moreno, F. A. Monteiro Santos, J. Madeira, J. Pous, I. Bernardo, A. Soares, M. Esteves, F. Adão, J. Ribeiro, J. Mata, A. Brum da Silveira

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© 2018 Elsevier B.V. One of the most remarkable natural events on Earth are the large lateral flank collapses of oceanic volcanoes, involving volumes of rock exceeding tens of km3. These collapses are relatively frequent in recent geological times as supported by evidence found in the geomorphology of volcanic island edifices and associated debris flows deposited on the proximal ocean floor. The Island of Fogo in the Cape Verde archipelago is one of the most active and prominent oceanic volcanoes on Earth. The island has an average diameter of 25 km and reaches a maximum elevation of 2829 m above sea level (m a.s.l.) at Pico do Fogo, a young stratovolcano located within a summit depression open eastward due to a large lateral flank collapse. The sudden collapse of the eastern flank of Fogo Island produced a megatsunami ~73 ky ago. The limits of the flank collapse were deduced as well from geomorphologic markers within the island. The headwall of the collapse scar is interpreted as either being located beneath the post-collapse volcanic infill of the summit depression or located further west, corresponding to the Bordeira wall that partially surrounds it. The magnetotelluric (MT) method provides a depth distribution of the ground resistivity obtained by the simultaneous measurement of the natural variations of the electric and magnetic field of the Earth. Two N-S magnetotelluric profiles were acquired across the collapsed area to determine its geometry and boundaries. The acquired MT data allowed the determination of the limits of the collapsed area more accurately as well as its morphology at depth and thickness of the post-collapse infill. According to the newly obtained MT data and the bathymetry of the eastern submarine flank of Fogo, the volume involved in the flank collapse is estimated in ~110 km3. This volume –the first calculated onshore– stands between the previously published more conservative and excessive calculations –offshore– that were exclusively based in geomorphic evidence. The model for the summit depression proposing two caldera collapses preceding the collapse of the eastern flank of Fogo is supported by the MT data.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)152-162
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018


  • Flank collapse
  • Island structure
  • Magnetotelluric
  • Resistivity
  • Volcanic ocean islands


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