Etnean and Hyblean volcanism shifted away from the Malta Escarpment by crustal stresses


Neri M., Rivalta E., Maccaferri F., Acocella V., Cirrincione R. (2018), Etnean and Hyblean
volcanism shifted away from the Malta Escarpment by crustal stresses. Earth and Planetary
Science Letters Volume 486, Pages 15–22

A fraction of the volcanic activity occurs intraplate, challenging our models of melting and magma transfer to the Earth’s surface. A prominent example is Mt. Etna, eastern Sicily, offset from the asthenospheric tear below the Malta Escarpment proposed as its melt source. The nearby Hyblean volcanism, to the south, and the overall northward migration of the eastern Sicilian volcanism are also unexplained. Here we simulate crustal magma pathways beneath eastern Sicily, accounting for regional stresses and decompression due to the increase in the depth of the Malta Escarpment. We find non-vertical magma pathways, with the competition of tectonic and loading stresses controlling the trajectories’ curvature and its change in time, causing the observed migration of volcanism. This suggests that the Hyblean and Etnean volcanism have been fed laterally from a melt pooling region below the Malta Escarpment. The case of eastern Sicily shows how the reconstruction of the evolution of magmatic provinces may require not only an assessment of the paleostresses, but also of the contribution of surface loads and their variations; at times, the latter may even prevail. Accounting for these competing stresses may help shed light on the distribution and wandering of intraplate volcanism.