While the final manifestations of caldera-forming eruptions can be easily observed on the Earth’s surface and are thus relatively well studied, the physical conditions and causes of caldera collapse and the mechanisms of brittle failure of the underlying rocks are still a mystery. The aim of a long-standing project by a joint team from the Faculty of Science of the UK and the Czech Technical University in Prague was to understand under what conditions the gravitational collapse of calderas occurs and what effect the shape of the underlying magma mantle, its size and depth in the Earth’s crust has. New research has shown, using a combination of geological data and mathematical modelling, that magma pressure oscillations lead to intense brittle failure in places, and therefore to a reduction in the strength of the magma crust ceiling, but that collapse and caldera formation can only occur under specific conditions.
Somr M., Žák J., Kabele P., Tomek F. (2023): Analysis of fracturing processes leading to caldera collapse. Earth-Science Reviews 241, 104413 (DOI)