Submarine Silicic Explosive Eruptions: what can submarine pyroclasts tell us?

Monday, 15 December 2014
Rebecca Carey, University of Tasmania, Earth Sciences, Hobart, TAS, Australia, Sharon Allen, Univ Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia, Jocelyn McPhie, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS, Australia, Richard S Fiske, Smithsonian Inst, Washington, DC, United States and Kenichiro Tani, JAMSTEC IFREE, Yokosuka, Japan
Our understanding of submarine volcanism is in its infancy with respect to subaerial eruption processes. Two fundamental differences between eruptions in seawater compared to those on land are that (1) eruptions occur at higher confining pressures, and (2) in a seawater medium, which has a higher heat capacity, density and viscosity than air.

Together with JAMSTEC collaborators we have a sample suite of submarine pumice deposits from modern volcanoes of known eruption depths. This sample suite spans a spectrum of eruption intensities, from 1) powerful explosive caldera-forming (Myojin Knoll caldera); to 2) weakly explosive cone building (pre-caldera Myojin Knoll pumice and Kurose-Nishi pumice); to 3) volatile-driven effusive dome spalling (Sumisu knoll A); to 4) passive dome effusion (Sumisu knoll B and C). This sample suite has exceptional potential, not simply because the samples have been taken from well-constrained, sources but because they have similar high silica contents, are unaltered and their phenocrysts contain melt inclusions.

Microtextural quantitative analysis has revealed that (i) clast vesicularities remain high (69-90 vol.%) regardless of confining pressure, mass eruption rate or eruption style , (ii) vesicle number densities scale with inferred eruption rate, and (iii) darcian and inertial permeabilities of submarine effusive and explosive pyroclasts overlap with explosively-erupted subaerial pyroclasts.