Spatio-temporal forecasting of future volcanism at Harrat Khaybar

Alohali, A.; Bertin, D.; de Silva, S. L.; Cronin S.; Duncan, R; Qaysi, S.; Moufti, M.R.

Keywords: Harrat Khaybar, Arabian Harrats, Eruption event record, Spatio-temporal analysis, Basaltic volcanic feld, Distributed volcanism, Intraplate volcanism


The 180,000 km2 of Arabian lava fields (“harrats” in Arabic) form one of the largest distributed basaltic provinces in the world. The most recent eruption in 1256 AD, on the outskirts of Medina, as well as shallow dike emplacement in 2009, ~ 200 km northeast of the city, suggest future volcanic threat to this area. Harrat Khaybar (~ 1.7 Ma to present) is one of the largest and most compositionally diverse Arabian lava fields; it is located ~ 137 km northeast of Medina and covers ~ 14,000 km2. Here, we present a new eruption event record and the first estimation of future potential locations and timing of volcanism in Harrat Khaybar. Volcanic vents and eruptive fissures were mapped using remote sensing and field studies, and categorized into a geospatial database, complemented by 16 new 40Ar/39Ar ages. Our analysis reveals that Harrat Khaybar developed over five eruptive phases, where vent locations over time focus towards the central axis forming a broad N-S trend, with a central group concentrated along an axis of the regional Makkah-Madinah-Nafud (MMN) line and wider spatial dispersion between vents outwards from there. For the whole field, we estimate a long-term average recurrence rate of ~ 2.3 eruptions per 10 kyr assuming a Poisson distribution for inter-event times, which indicates that Harrat Khaybar would belong to a global group of highly active distributed volcanic fields. Our analysis also reveals that the field likely had a “flare-up” period between 450 and 300 ka where the vast majority of eruptions occurred, with ~ 18 eruptions per 10 kyr. After this intense period, eruption rates fell to < 2 eruptions per 10 kyr. Based on our findings, we estimate cumulative probabilities of 1.09 and 16.3% as lower and upper bounds of at least one eruption occurring over the next 100 years somewhere in Harrat Khaybar, with the highest probabilities within the central axis region, in particular around Jabal Qidr, Bayda and Abyad.

Más información

Volumen: 11
Número: 12
Fecha de publicación: 2022
Idioma: English