The Effects of Preeruptive Magma Viscosity on Eruption Styles and Magma Eruption Rates

Friday, 19 December 2014
Akihiko Tomiya, Geological Survey of Japan, AIST, Tsukuba, Japan, Takehiro Koyaguchi, University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Japan, Tomofumi Kozono, Tohoku University, Sendai-shi, Japan and Shingo Takeuchi, CRIEPI, Abiko, Chiba, Japan
We have collected data on magma eruption rate, which is one of the most fundamental parameters for a volcanic eruption. There are several compilations on eruption rates, for example, for Plinian eruptions (Carey and Sigurdsson, 1989), basaltic eruptions (Wadge, 1981), lava dome eruptions (Newhall and Melson, 1983), and all combined (Tomiya and Koyaguchi, 1998; Pyle, 2000). However, they did not quantitatively discuss the effects of magma viscosity, which must control eruption rates.

Here, we discuss the effects of magma viscosity on eruption rates, by using 'preeruptive magma viscosities', which are important measures of magma eruptibility (Takeuchi, 2011). Preeruptive magma viscosity is the viscosity of magma (melt, dissolved water, and crystals) in the magma chamber at the preeruptive conditions, and can be approximately obtained only by the bulk rock SiO2 and phenocryst content, using an empirical formula (Takeuchi, 2010).

We have found some interesting relationships, such as (1) eruption styles and rates are correlated to preeruptive magma viscosity but not correlated to bulk rock composition, and (2) the gap (ratio) in eruption rates between explosive and effusive phases in a series of eruptions is proportional to preeruptive magma viscosity. We also propose, by combining (1) and (2), that (3) the radius (or width) of volcanic conduit is positively correlated with preeruptive magma viscosity.

Our data also show that the eruptive magmas are divided into two types. One is the low-viscosity type (basalt ~ phenocryst-poor andesite), characterized by lava flow and sub-Plinian eruptions. The other is the high-viscosity type (phenocryst-rich andesite ~ rhyolite), characterized by lava dome and Plinian eruptions. The boundary is at about 104 Pa s. These two types may be closely linked to the magma generation processes (fractional/batch crystallization vs. extraction from a mushy magma chamber).