Hot clasts and cold blasts: thermal heterogeneity in boiling-over pyroclastic density currents
Erika Rader, Dennis Geist, John Geissman, Joe Dufek, Karen Harpp, 2015. "Hot clasts and cold blasts: thermal heterogeneity in boiling-over pyroclastic density currents", The Use of Palaeomagnetism and Rock Magnetism to Understand Volcanic Processes, M. H. Ort, M. Porreca, J. W. Geissman
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Partial thermal remanent magnetization data from clasts in pyroclastic density current (PDC) deposits provide information on the emplacement temperatures of both lithic and juvenile magmatic clasts contained in the deposits. We collected palaeomagnetic data from clasts in PDC deposits emplaced during historical eruptions of two volcanoes in Ecuador, the 2006 eruption at Tungurahua and the 1877 eruption at Cotopaxi. These eruptions were characterized by emplacement of PDCs mainly related to boiling-over activity. The deposits of these eruptions are similar and are characterized by cauliflower-textured juvenile scoria clasts up to 1 m in diameter and a diverse assemblage of lithic clasts surrounded by an unwelded ashy matrix. On the basis of progressive thermal demagnetization experiments, we infer that emplacement temperatures for most of the lithic clasts in PDC deposits are below 90 °C. In contrast, palaeomagnetic data from juvenile clasts from the same deposits provide emplacement temperatures higher than 540 °C. These data indicate the PDC were thermally heterogeneous over short length scales (decimetres) also after deposition. We hypothesize that PDCs emplaced by the boiling-over mechanism cool quickly owing to atmosphere entrainment, causing the juvenile clasts to form a rind that retains heat and that also prevents lithic clasts from appreciable heating. Several deposits on Cotopaxi, despite being morphologically similar to the PDC deposits, contain both cold lithic and juvenile clasts, which we interpret to be lahar deposits formed by PDCs travelling across glacial ice and snow. Rare deposits containing both hot lithic and hot juvenile clasts are classified as well-mixed, hot PDCs, and were erupted during a more energetic phase at Tungurahua.
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This volume provides a synopsis of current research on volcanic processes, as gained through the use of palaeomagnetic and rock magnetic techniques. Thermoremanent magnetization information provides a powerful means of deciphering thermal processes in volcanic deposits, including estimating the emplacement temperature of pyroclastic deposits, which allows us to understand better the rates of cooling during eruption and transport. Anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility and anisotropy of remanence are used primarily to investigate rock fabrics and to quantify flow dynamics in dykes, lava flows, and pyroclastic deposits, as well as identify vent locations. Rock-magnetic characteristics allow correlation of volcanic deposits, but also provide means to date volcanic deposits and to understand better their cooling history. Because lava flows are typically good recorders of past magnetic fields, data from them allow understanding of changes in geomagnetic field directions and intensity, providing clues on the origin of Earth’s magnetic field.