Controls on variations in cristobalite abundance in ash generated by the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat in the period 1997 to 2010
Published:January 01, 2014
C. J. Horwell, S. E. Hillman, P. D. Cole, S. C. Loughlin, E. W. Llewellin, D. E. Damby, T. E. Christopher, 2014. "Controls on variations in cristobalite abundance in ash generated by the Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat in the period 1997 to 2010", The Eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010, G. Wadge, R. E. A. Robertson, B. Voight
Download citation file:
The Soufrière Hills Volcano (SHV) crystallizes cristobalite (crystalline silica) in its lava domes, and inhalation of cristobalite-rich ash may pose a chronic respiratory hazard. We investigate the causes of variation in cristobalite abundance (measured by X-ray diffraction) in ash from dome collapses, explosions and ash venting from 1997 to 2010.
Cristobalite abundance in bulk dome-collapse ash varies between 4 and 23 wt%. During periods of slow lava extrusion (<5 m3 s−1), cristobalite is abundant (7–23 wt%), which we attribute to extensive devitrification in slow-cooling lava; it can also form rapidly (15 wt% in 2 months), but we find no correlation between cristobalite abundance and dome residence time (DRT). By contrast, during rapid extrusion (>5 m3 s−1), cristobalite abundance is low (4–7 wt%, similar to that associated with Vulcanian explosions), and correlates strongly with DRT. We attribute this correlation to progressive vapour-phase mineralization or devitrification, and the lack of contamination by older lava. Cristobalite abundance is expected to be >7 wt% for collapse of slowly extruded lava, for ash venting through a dome or for incorporation of hydrothermally altered edifice during explosions; cristobalite abundance is expected to be <7 wt% for collapse of rapidly extruded lava, for ash venting without dome incorporation and from Vulcanian explosions at SHV.
Figures & Tables
The Eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat from 2000 to 2010
The 1995 to present eruption of Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat is one of the most important and best-studied eruptions of an explosive andesitic volcano. This volume presents scientific findings from the period between 2000 and 2010; it follows on from Memoir 21, which focused on the early years of activity between 1995 and 1999. In addition to descriptions and analysis of the growth, collapse and explosions associated with lava domes, there are papers on the deformation of the volcano caused by the deep magma, the petrology and geochemistry of the lavas and associated gases. Of particular note are: an overview of the insights into the deep structure of the volcano that resulted from a major international seismic tomography experiment; and an analysis of the quantitative risk assessment process that has run now for most of the eruption, the longest such continuous assessment in the world.