Collaborative Research: Determining Magma Storage Depths and Ascent Rates for the Erebus Volcanic Province, Antarctica Using Diffusive Water Loss from Olivine-hosted Melt Inclusion
Magma Storage Depths and Ascent Rates
The depths at which magmas are stored, their pre-eruptive volatile contents, and the rates at which they ascend to the Earth's surface are important controls on the dynamics of volcanic eruptions. Basaltic magmas are likely to be vapor undersaturated as they begin their ascent from the mantle through the crust, but volatile solubility drops with decreasing pressure. Once vapor saturation is achieved and the magma begins to degas, its pre-eruptive volatile content is determined largely by the depth at which it resides within the crust. Magma stored in deeper reservoirs tend to experience less pre-eruptive degassing and to be richer in volatiles than magma shallower reservoirs. Eruptive style is influenced by the rate at which a magma ascends from the reservoir to the surface through its effect on the efficiency of vapor bubble nucleation, growth, and coalescence. The proposed work will advance our understanding of pre-eruptive storage conditions and syn-eruptive ascent rates through a combined field and analytical research program. Volatile measurements from olivine-hosted melt inclusions will be used to systematically investigate magma storage depths and ascent rates associated with alkaline volcanism in the Erebus volcanic province. A central goal of the project is to provide a spatial and temporal framework for interpreting results from studies of present-day volcanic processes at Mt Erebus volcano. The Erebus volcanic province of Antarctica is especially well suited to this type of investigation because: (1) there are many exposed mafic scoria cones, fissure vents, and hyaloclastites (exposed in sea cliffs) that produced rapidly quenched, olivine-rich tephra; (2) existing volatile data for Ross Island MIs show that magma storage was relatively deep compared to many mafic volcanic systems; (3) some of the eruptive centers ejected mantle xenoliths, allowing for comparison of ascent rates for xenolith-bearing and xenolith-free eruptions, and comparison of ascent rates for those bearing xenoliths with times estimated from settling velocities; and (4) the cold, dry conditions in Antarctica result in excellent tephra preservation compared to tropical and even many temperate localities. The project provides new tools for assessing volcanic hazards, facilitates collaboration involving researchers from three different institutions (WHOI, U Wyoming, and U Oregon), supports the researchers' involvement in teaching, advising, and outreach, and provides an educational opportunity for a promising young postdoctoral researcher. Understanding the interrelationships among magma volatile contents, reservoir depths, and ascent rates is vital for assessing volcanic hazards associated with alkaline volcanism across the globe.
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