The influence of conduit processes on changes in style of basaltic Plinian eruptions: Tarawera 1886 and Etna 122 BC
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Houghton, BF and Wilson, CJN and Del Carlo, P and Coltelli, M and Sable, JE and Carey, RJ, The influence of conduit processes on changes in style of basaltic Plinian eruptions: Tarawera 1886 and Etna 122 BC, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research: An International Journal on The Geophysical, Geochemical, Petrological and Economic Aspects of Geothermal and Volcanological Research, 137, (1-3) pp. 1-14. ISSN 0377-0273 (2004) [Refereed Article]
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Basaltic volcanism is most typically thought to produce effusion of lava, with the most explosive manifestations ranging from mild Strombolian activity to more energetic fire fountain eruptions. However, some basaltic eruptions are now recognized as extremely violent, i.e., generating widespread phreatomagmatic, subplinian and Plinian fall deposits. We focus here on the influence of conduit processes, especially partial open-system degassing, in triggering abrupt changes in style and intensity that occurred during two examples of basaltic Plinian volcanism. We use the 1886 eruption of Tarawera, New Zealand, the youngest known basaltic Plinian eruption and the only one for which there are detailed written eyewitness accounts, and the well-documented 122 BC eruption of Mount Etna, Italy, and present new grain size and vesicularity data from the proximal deposits. These data show that even during extremely powerful basaltic eruptions, conduit processes play a critical role in modifying the form of the eruptions. Even with very high discharge, and presumably ascent, rates, partial open-system behaviour of basaltic melts becomes a critical factor that leads to development of domains of largely stagnant and outgassed melt that restricts the effective radius of the conduit. The exact path taken in the waning stages of the eruptions varied, in response to factors which included conduit geometry, efficiency and extent of outgassing and availability of ground water, but a relatively abrupt cessation to sustained high-intensity discharge was an inevitable consequence of the degassing processes. © 2004 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
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