Analysis of Heterogeneity in CO2, H2O and OH in Centimeter-Sized Obsidian Pyroclasts from Mono Craters, California

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Giselle D Conde and James M Watkins, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR, United States
Volcanic tephra deposits typically contain inclusions or fragments of quenched melt that preserve pre-eruptive volatile concentrations within the volcanic conduit. The concentrations of CO2, H2O and OH in obsidian pyroclasts provide information on magma storage depths while gradients in these volatile species provide information on rates and mechanisms of gas loss (or gain) in magma during ascent.

We are measuring CO2, H2O and OH profiles and area maps in six randomly selected pyroclastic obsidian clasts from Mono Craters, California using conventional Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FTIR). Previous studies of these pyroclasts have focused on spot analyses of volatile concentrations within clast interiors, but our study targets clast rims, bubbles, flow bands, and texturally homogeneous regions of the clasts. The objective is to use the magnitude and spatial distribution of heterogeneities to assess the role of vapor fluxing and to determine timescales of magmatic processes such as bubble growth/resorption and mixing of magma from variable depths.

The first clast that we have analyzed is relatively homogeneous in dissolved H2O and OH but exhibits millimeter-scale heterogeneities in dissolved CO2. The concentration of dissolved CO2 varies by a factor of two, ranging from 15 to 30 ppm with a patchy distribution throughout the clast. The patches of high CO2 concentration do not correspond to visible textures within the clast. Total water (H2Ot) varies from 1.5 to 1.7 wt% with higher water concentrations corresponding to darker regions of glass. The distribution of CO2 requires a mechanism for introducing millimeter-scale heterogeneity within minutes to hours prior to the eruption. Our interpretation is that obsidian pyroclasts are assembled during chaotic vertical mixing and thus sample a range of depths within the feeder system. This interpretation is consistent with previous inferences that resorption of bubbles within pyroclasts is caused by repeated breaking and rewelding of magma and not due to the more quiescent process of isobaric cooling in the subsurface.