Abstract

The upper Quaternary pyroclastic flow deposits of Laacher See volcano show compositional and structural facies variations on four different scales: (1) eruptive units of pyroclastic flows, composed of many flow units; (2) depositional cycles of as many as five flow units; flow units containing (3) regional intraflow-unit facies; and (4) local intraflow-unit subfacies. These facies can be explained by successively overlapping processes beginning in the magma column and ending with final deposition. The pyroclastic flow deposits thus reflect major aspects of the eruptive history of Laacher See volcano: (a) drastic changes in eruptive mechanism due to increasing access of water to the magma chamber and (b) change in chemical composition and crystal and gas content as evacuation of a compositionally zoned magma column progressed. The four scales of facies result from four successive sets of processes: (1) differentiation in the magma column and external factors governing the mechanism of eruption; (2) temporal variations of factors inducing eruption column collapse; (3) physical conditions in the eruption column and the way in which its collapse proceeds; and (4) interplay of flow-inherent and morphology-induced transport mechanics.

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