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Authors: Cioni, R.* 
D'Oriano, C.* 
Bertagnini, A.* 
Title: Fingerprinting ash deposits of small scale eruptions by their physical and textural features
Issue Date: 20-Oct-2008
Series/Report no.: 1/177 (2008)
DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.06.003
Keywords: tephrostratigraphic methods
shape parameters
groundmass texture
mid-intensity eruptions
ash deposits
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.05. Volcanic rocks 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.06. Volcano monitoring 
Abstract: Correlation of distal ash deposits with their proximal counterparts mainly relies on chemical and mineralogical characterization of bulk rock and matrix glasses. However, the study of juvenile fragments often reveals the heterogeneity in terms of clast shape, external surface, groundmass texture and composition. This is particularly evident in small scale eruptions, characterized by a strong variability in texture and relative abundance of juvenile fragments. This heterogeneity introduces an inherent uncertainty, that makes the compositional data alone inadequate to unequivocally characterize the tephra bed. Pyroclast characteristics, if described and quantified, can represent an additional clue for the correct identification of the tephra. The paper presents morphological, textural and compositional data on the products of an ash eruption from Middle Age activity of Vesuvius, to demonstrate the information that can be extracted from the proposed type of analysis. Juvenile fragments from five ash layers throughout the studied products were randomly hand-picked and fully characterized in terms of external morphology, particle outline parameterization, groundmass texture and glass composition. Statistical analysis of shape parameters characterized groups of fragments that can be compared with the other textural and physical parameters. The main result is that the data do not show important cross-correlation so suggesting that all of these parameters, together with accurate field data are needed for the complete fingerprinting of a tephra bed. We suggest that this approach is especially important for characterizing the products of small scale, compositionally undistinguishable, eruptions and represents the necessary step to deal with before going into more detailed compositional analyses.
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