Despite their seeming permanence, volcanoes are prone to catastrophic collapse that can affect vast areas in a matter of minutes. Large collapses begin as gigantic landslides that quickly transform to debris avalanches—chaotically tumbling masses of rock debris that can sweep downslope at extremely high velocities, inundating areas far beyond the volcano. Rapid burial by the debris avalanches themselves, associated eruptions and lahars (volcanic mudflows), and inundation by tsunamis triggered when avalanches impact bodies of water can all cause widespread devastation to people and property.
|Title||When volcanoes fall down—Catastrophic collapse and debris avalanches|
|Authors||Lee Siebert, Mark E. Reid, James W. Vallance, Thomas C. Pierson|
|Publication Subtype||USGS Numbered Series|
|Series Title||Fact Sheet|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Volcano Science Center|