Unsorted and unstratified deposits of volcanic rock debris typically flank recently active stratovolcanoes. It is often difficult, using standard geologic procedures, to establish whether a particular deposit was emplaced by a pyroclastic flow, lahar, rock avalanche, or glacier. Determination of the emplacement temperatures of clasts contained in the deposit aids in discriminating among some of these possibilities. The emplacement temperature of a clast can be estimated by analyzing its thermoremanent magnetization. To do this, oriented samples of the clasts are submitted to progressive thermal demagnetization; the directions and magnitudes of the resulting residual remanent vectors provide the information necessary to estimate the temperatures at which the clasts were emplaced. Studies of samples that were given artificial emplacement temperatures reveal that estimates are within ±25 °C of the actual values. The temperature range within which estimates are possible depends on the thermoremanent magnetization acquisition curve of a clast. Data obtained from deposits of volcanic rock debris from Mount St. Helens, Washington, indicate that for andesitic and dacitic rocks, the range is roughly 100 to 550 °C. The procedure probably can be applied to other geologic problems that require temperature information.

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