Abstract

A magma lens can erupt to form extrusives only if it is under greater pressure than the static pressure in a column of magma reaching from the lens to the surface. The excess pressure results partly from overburden pressure caused by the presence of high- and low-density rocks (dikes and extrusives, respectively) above the lens. The thicker the pile of low-density extrusives, the lower the average overburden density. Thus, extrusion above a lens should be self-regulating, in that thickening the extrusive layer reduces the driving pressure for subsequent eruptions. Flexural stresses may affect extrusion by altering the pressure on a magma chamber. For ridges lacking an axial valley, we predict that deeper magma lenses should correlate with thicker extrusive layers, consistent with recent observations.

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