Holocene Flows of the Cima Volcanic Field, Mojave Desert, Part 2: Flow Rheology from Laboratory Measurements

Monday, 15 December 2014
Timothy Robertson1, Alan G Whittington1, Arianna Soldati1, Alexander Sehlke1, Jordon Ray Beem2 and Francisco G Gomez1, (1)University of Missouri Columbia, Columbia, MO, United States, (2)University of Missouri Columbia, Dept. Geological Sciences, Columbia, MO, United States
Lava flow morphology is often utilized as an indicator of rheological behavior during flow emplacement. Rheological behavior can be characterized by the viscosity and yield strength of lava, which in turn are dependent on physical and chemical properties including crystallinity, vesicularity, and bulk composition. We are studying the rheology of a basaltic lava flow from a monogenetic Holocene cinder cone in the Cima lava field (Mojave Desert, California). The flow is roughly 2.5 km long and up to 700m wide, with a well-developed central channel along much of its length. Samples were collected along seven different traverses across the flow, along with real-time kinematic (RTK) GPS profiles to allow levee heights and slopes to be measured. Surface textures change from pahoehoe ropes near the vent to predominantly jagged `a`a blocks over the majority of the flow, including all levees and the toe. Chemically the lava shows little variation, plotting on the trachybasalt-basanite boundary on the total alkali-silica diagram. Mineralogically the lava is dominated by plagioclase, clinopyroxene and olivine phenocrysts, with abundant flow-aligned plagioclase microcrystals. The total crystal fraction is ~50% near the vent, with higher percentages in the distal portion of the flow. Vesicularity varies between ~10 and more than ~60%. Levees are ~10-15m high with slopes typically ~25-35˚, suggesting a yield strength at final emplacement of ~150,000 Pa. The effective emplacement temperature and yield strength of lava samples will be determined using the parallel-plate technique. We will test the hypothesis that these physical and rheological properties of the lava during final emplacement correlate with spatial patterns in flow morphology, such as average slope and levee width, which have been determined using remote sensing observations (Beem et al. 2014).