Constraining the dynamics of volcanic eruptions by characterization of pumice textures

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M. Polacci


We have characterized the textures of pumice clasts from Phlegraean Fields to gain insights into the conduit
flow-dynamics of alkaline explosive eruptions. Vesicularities, vesicle number densities, and vesicle sizes and
shapes were measured to obtain the bulk and groundmass properties of the juvenile fraction of Campanian Ignimbrite
(CI) and Agnano Monte Spina (AMS) eruptions. The results report the coexistence of three end-member
pumice types in the deposits of both eruptions, 1) microvesicular, 2) tube and 3) expanded, which differ according
to clast morphology and the macro- to microscopic vesicle texture. Vesicularities (0.85-0.94 for CI,
0.51-0.91 for AMS) and vesicle number densities (2-4×105 cm-2 in CI, 3×105-106 cm-2 in AMS) span quite a
wide range in all the three pumice types. Overall, tube pumices exhibit the highest bulk (0.89) and groundmass
(CI 0.85, AMS 0.82) average vesicle volume fractions but the lowest average vesicle number densities (CI
2×105, AMS 4×105 cm-2). Comparison with textures of calc-alkaline pumices has revealed many similarities and
points to a common origin and distribution of the products from both magma compositions within the volcanic
conduit. In addition, the results of the textural analysis were interpreted in the light of the conduit flow modeling
of Phlegraean Fields eruptions. The comparison of textural observations with results from simulations of
conduit magma ascent has exhibited a good agreement between measured and numerically calculated vesicularities
for both compositions, helping to constrain the overall dynamics of alkaline versus calc-alkaline eruptions.

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How to Cite
Polacci, M. (2005) “Constraining the dynamics of volcanic eruptions by characterization of pumice textures”, Annals of Geophysics, 48(4-5). doi: 10.4401/ag-3229.