The Stability and Collapse of Lava Domes: Insight From Photogrammetry and Slope Stability Models Applied to Sinabung Volcano (Indonesia)

Brett B. Carr, Einat Lev, Loÿc Vanderkluysen, Danielle Moyer, Gayatri Indah Marliyani, Amanda B. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Lava domes form by the effusive eruption of high-viscosity lava and are inherently unstable and prone to collapse, representing a significant volcanic hazard. Many processes contribute to instability in lava domes and can generally be grouped into two categories: active and passive. Active collapses are driven directly by lava effusion. In contrast, passive collapses are not correlated with effusion rate, and thus represent a hazard that is more difficult to assess and forecast. We demonstrate a new workflow for assessing and forecasting passive dome collapse by examining a case study at Sinabung Volcano (North Sumatra, Indonesia). We captured visual images from the ground in 2014 and from unoccupied aerial systems (UAS) in 2018 and used structure-from-motion photogrammetry to generate digital elevation models (DEMs) of Sinabung’s evolving lava dome. By comparing our DEMs to a pre-eruption DEM, we estimate volume changes associated with the eruption. As of June 2018, the total erupted volume since the eruption began is 162 × 106 m3. Between 2014 and 2018, 10 × 106 m3 of material collapsed from the lava flow due to passive processes. We evaluate lava dome stability using the Scoops3D numerical model and the DEMs. We assess the passive collapse hazard and analyze the effect of lava material properties on dome stability. Scoops3D is able to hindcast the location and volume of passive collapses at Sinabung that occurred during 2014 and 2015, and we use the same material properties to demonstrate that significant portions of the erupted lava potentially remain unstable and prone to collapse as of late 2018, despite a pause in effusive activity earlier that year. This workflow offers a means of quantitatively assessing passive collapse hazards at active or recently active volcanoes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number813813
JournalFrontiers in Earth Science
StatePublished - May 27 2022


  • Sinabung volcano
  • hazard assessment
  • lava dome collapse
  • lava domes
  • structure-from-motion photogrammetry
  • unoccupied aerial systems

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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