Degassing dynamics play a crucial role in controlling the explosivity of magma at erupting volcanoes. Degassing of magmatic water typically involves bubble nucleation and growth, which drive magma ascent. Crystals suspended in magma may influence both nucleation and growth of bubbles. Micron- to centimeter-sized crystals can cause heterogeneous bubble nucleation and facilitate bubble coalescence. Nanometer-scale crystalline phases, so-called “nanolites”, are an underreported phenomenon in erupting magma and could exert a primary control on the eruptive style of silicic volcanoes. Yet the influence of nanolites on degassing processes remains wholly uninvestigated. In order to test the influence of nanolites on bubble nucleation and growth dynamics, we use an experimental approach to document how nanolites can increase the bubble number density and affect growth kinetics in a degassing nanolite-bearing silicic magma. We then examine a compilation of these values from natural volcanic rocks from explosive eruptions leading to the inference that some very high naturally occurring bubble number densities could be associated with the presence of magmatic nanolites. Finally, using a numerical magma ascent model, we show that for reasonable starting conditions for silicic eruptions, an increase in the resulting bubble number density associated with nanolites could push an eruption that would otherwise be effusive into the conditions required for explosive behavior.

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