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When volcanoes fall down—Catastrophic collapse and debris avalanches

May 8, 2019

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.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2019
Title When volcanoes fall down—Catastrophic collapse and debris avalanches
DOI 10.3133/fs20193023
Authors Lee Siebert, Mark E. Reid, James W. Vallance, Thomas C. Pierson
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Fact Sheet
Series Number 2019-3023
Index ID fs20193023
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center