Studies of pre-eruptive processes at active volcanoes require precise petrochronological constraints if they are to contribute to hazard assessment during future eruption events. We present petrological and geochemical data and orthopyroxene diffusion time scales for samples from Late Pleistocene high-Mg andesite-dacite lavas (Mg# 53–69) at Ruapehu volcano, New Zealand, as a case study of rapid magma genesis and eruption at a continental arc stratovolcano. Assembly of Ruapehu high-Mg magmas involved the mixing of primitive magmas plus entrained mantle-equilibrated olivines with mid-crustal felsic mush bodies, yielding hybridized magmas with ubiquitous pyroxene reverse-zoning patterns. Orthopyroxene Fe-Mg interdiffusion time scales linked to quantitative crystal orientation data show that most lavas erupted <10 days after resumption of crystal growth following magma mixing events. The eruption of lavas within days of mixing events implies that pre-eruptive warnings may be correspondingly short.

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