Autobrecciation and Fusing of Mafic Magma Preceding Explosive Eruptions
Bubble and crystal textures evolve during magma ascent, altering properties that control ascent such as permeability and viscosity. Eruption style results from feedbacks between ascent, bubble nucleation and growth, microlite crystallization, and gas loss, all processes recorded in pyroclasts. We show that pyroclasts of the mafic Curacautín ignimbrite of Llaima volcano, Chile, record a history of repeated autobrecciation, fusing, and crystallization. We identified pyroclasts with domains of heterogeneous vesicle textures in sharp contact with one another that are overprinted by extensive microlite crystallization. Broken crystals with long axes (l) > 10 μm record fragmentation events during the eruption. A second population of unbroken microlites with l ≤ 10 μm overprint sutures between fused domains, suggesting the highly crystalline groundmass formed at shallow depths after autobrecciation and fusing. Nearly all pyroclasts contain plutonic and ancestral Llaima lithics as inclusions, implying that fusing occurs from a few kilometers depth to as shallow as the surface. We propose that Curacautín ignimbrite magma autobrecciated during ascent and proto-pyroclasts remained melt rich enough to fuse together. Lithics from the conduit margins were entrained into the proto-pyroclasts before fusing. Autobrecciation broke existing phenocrysts and microlites; rapid post-fusing crystallization then generated the highly crystalline groundmass. This proposed conduit process has implications for interpreting the products of mafic explosive eruptions.
Marshall, Aaron A.; Manga, Michael; Brand, Brittany D.; and Andrews, Benjamin J.. (2022). "Autobrecciation and Fusing of Mafic Magma Preceding Explosive Eruptions". Geology, 50(10), 1177-1181. https://doi.org/10.1130/G50180.1