Characterization of 2017 drill core samples from Surtsey, an oceanic island produced by 1963−1967 eruptions in the offshore extension of Iceland’s east rift zone, reveals highly heterogeneous microstructural, physical, and mechanical properties in subaerial, submarine, and subseafloor basaltic deposits. The connected porosity varies from 42% in weakly consolidated lapilli tuff in a submarine inflow zone to 21% in strongly lithified lapilli tuff in upper subseafloor deposits near the explosively excavated conduit. Permeability, however, varies over six orders of magnitude, from 10−18 m2 to 10−13 m2. Uniaxial compressive strength, P-wave velocity, and thermal conductivity are also highly variable: 10−70 MPa, 1.48−3.74 km·s−1, and 0.472−0.862 W·m−1·K−1, respectively. Synchrotron X-ray microdiffraction analyses integrated with major-element geochemistry and quantitative X-ray powder diffraction analyses describe the initial alteration of fresh glass, incipient consolidation of a fine-ash matrix, and partial closure of pores with mineral cements. Permeability, micromechanical, and thermal property modeling highlight how porosity and pore size in eruptive fabrics—modified through diverse cementing microstructures—influence the physical properties of the pyroclastic deposits. Borehole temperatures, 25−141 °C (measured from 1980 to 2018), do not directly correlate with rock strength properties; rather, the abundance and consolidation of a binding fine-ash matrix appears to be a primary factor. Analytical results integrated with archival data from 1979 drill core samples provide reference parameters for geophysical and heat transfer studies, the physical characteristics of pyroclastic deposits that lithify on a decadal scale, and the stability and survival of oceanic islands over time.

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