Surface deformation and stress interactions during the 2007-2010 sequence of earthquake, dyke intrusion and eruption in northern Tanzania

Juliet Biggs*, Michael Chivers, Michael C. Hutchinson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Magma movement and fault slip alter the magnitude and orientation of the stress in the surrounding crust. Observations of a sequence of events clustered in space and time provide information about the triggering mechanism and stress interactions between magma intrusion, earthquakes and eruptions. We investigate the syn- and post-intrusion stress changes associated with the 2007 Gelei dyke intrusion episode and subsequent eruption of nearby Oldonyo Lengai. Previous studies produced a kinematic model of the 2007 June-August sequence involving similar to 1 m slip on a normal fault followed by the intrusion of the 7-10-km long Gelei dyke, collapse of a shallow graben and the deflation of the Gelei magma chamber. Immediately following this, the volcano Oldoinyo Lengai (<10 km away) experienced a new phase of explosive activity lasting for several months. Here, we present new geodetic observations covering Gelei and Oldoinyo Lengai in 2008 September-2010. We show continued slip on graben-bounding faults above the Gelei dyke. The eruption of Oldoinyo Lengai was accompanied by the intrusion of a 4 km-long E-W-trending dyke followed by deflation of a shallow source directly below the summit of the volcano. Next, we use stress calculations to investigate a number of hypotheses linking these events. (1) Before the onset of surface deformation, a dyke sufficiently deep and narrow to be geodetically undetectable could still have produced sufficient stress changes to trigger slip on the normal fault (i.e. the sequence could have been magmatically driven). (2) Stresses at the dyke tip would have been sufficient to overcome the effect of continued slip on the normal fault, allowing the dyke to propagate upwards into a region of clamping. (3) The Gelei sequence would have produced a significant stress change on the chamber beneath Oldoinyo Lengai. These static stress calculations allow us to discuss the roles played by dynamic stress, deeper magmatic changes and background stresses throughout the sequence with implications for the stress triggering of both seismic and volcanic hazards.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-26
Number of pages11
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013


  • Satellite geodesy
  • Continental tectonics: extensional
  • Kinematics of crustal and mantle deformation
  • Physics of magma and magma bodies
  • Remote sensing of volcanoes
  • Africa

Cite this