A Nanolite Record of Eruption Style Transition

Monday, 15 December 2014: 5:30 PM
Mayumi Mujin and Michihiko Nakamura, Tohoku University, Sendai, Japan
Microlites in pyroclasts have been intensively studied to understand magma ascent processes. However, microlites do not record the explosive-effusive transitions in sub-Plinian eruptions when such transitions are governed by the shallow level degassing rather than by the magma ascent rate. To overcome this limitation, we studied the “nanolites” in the quenched products of the 2011 Shinmoedake, Kirishima Volcanic Group, Kyusyu Japan1. Nanolites are the nanometer-scale components of the groundmass minerals and exhibit a steeper slope of crystal size distribution than that of the microlites2. In the 2011 Shinmoedake eruption, the style of activity had undergone transformations from sub-Plinian eruption to Vulcanian explosion and intermittent effusion of lava3. We found that, although the products formed by different eruptive activities have similar microlite characteristics, such products can be distinguished clearly by their mineral assemblage of nanolites. The samples of pumices of sub-Plinian eruptions and Vulcanian explosions and the dense juvenile fragments of lava (in descending order of explosivity) contained, respectively, nanolites of low-Ca pyroxene, low-Ca pyroxene + plagioclase, and low-Ca pyroxene + plagioclase + Fe-Ti oxides. Nanolites are assumed to crystallize when undercooling of the magma due primarily to dehydration increases rapidly near the surface. The water contents of the interstitial glass indicate that the quenched depths did not differ greatly between eruption styles. Hence, the different nanolite assemblages of each eruption style are assumed to have resulted from differences in magma residence time near the surface. Thus, we propose that nanolites in pyroclasts have the potential to indicate the physicochemical conditions of magma at the transition points of eruption styles.

References 1) Mujin and Nakamura, 2014, Geology, v.42, p.611–614 2) Sharp et al., 1996, Bull. Volcanol, v.57, p.631–640 3) Miyabuchi et al, 2013, J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res, v.258, p.31–46