Somma-Vesuvius Plinian Eruptions fed by mafic magma: insights from bubbles in melt inclusions

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Rosario Esposito1,2, Daniele Redi3, Claudia Cannatelli2, Leonid V Danyushevsky3, Annamaria Lima2, Robert J Bodnar4 and Benedetto De Vivo2, (1)University of California Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (2)Univ. di Napoli Federico II, Napoli, Italy, (3)University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia, (4)Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States
Mt. Somma-Vesuvius Plinian eruptions were first described by Pliny the younger in 79 AD during the infamous eruption that destroyed Pompeii. Today, such eruptions are still a concern to the nearly 3 million people living in the Naples metropolitan area. Understanding the source for Mt. Somma-Vesuvius magma and the coexisting volatile phase is vital to better constrain the long-term eruptive behavior of this volcano.

In the present study, ~ 50 olivine phenocrysts were selected from lavas and pumices produced during mild effusive events referred to as inter-Plinian eruptions, and from highly explosive Plinian eruptions that occurred at Mt. Somma-Vesuvius between 33000 ka and 1631 AD. Selected olivine phenocrysts containing MI were examined petrographically and analyzed for Fo content. Fo varies from 69 to 73 mole% for inter-Plinian olivine crystals and from 84 to 90 mole% with one zoned olivine containing 76-81 mole% Fo, for Plinian olivine crystals. Investigated MI vary from slightly crystallized to highly crystallized.

Selected crystallized MI were reheated using the Vernadsky stage, and quenched to a homogeneous glass (Group 1) or glass plus a vapor bubble (Group 2). On one hand, MI of Group 1 are hosted in olivine ranging from Fo72 to Fo76 and were all erupted from the Pompeii eruption (white pumice deposit). On the other hand, MI of Group 2 are trapped in olivine ranging from Fo69 to Fo81 and from Fo84 to Fo90, and the hosts are representative of both Plinian and inter-Plinian events. The only eruption where Group-1 and Group-2 MI coexist is the Pompeii eruption.

Group 2 MIs were further analyzed by Raman to test for the presence of volatiles (CO2 or H2O) in the vapor bubbles. CO2 was detected in all MI analyzed. CO2 density was determined using the distance between the two Fermi-diad peaks, and ranges between 0.14 and 0.55 g/cm3. Six MI also showed evidence for H2O in the vapor bubble. In addition, carbonates were detected at the glass-vapor interface of five MI.

This study shows that the CO2-rich fluid phase, which might exsolve from Plinian melts contain a significant amount of H2O. In addition, the first melting temperature of the fluids in the vapor bubble (~ -58ºC) suggests that volatile components, other than CO2, are included in the vapor bubbles.