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Authors: Polacci, M.* 
Papale, P.* 
Del Seppia, D.* 
Giordano, D.* 
Romano, C.* 
Title: Dynamics of magma ascent and fragmentation in trachytic versus rhyolitic eruptions
Issue Date: 15-Mar-2004
Series/Report no.: 1-2/131(2004)
DOI: 10.1016/S0377-0273(03)00319-6
Keywords: trachytic magma
conduit flow
eruption dynamics and numerical simulations
Subject Classification04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.03. Magmas 
04. Solid Earth::04.08. Volcanology::04.08.07. Instruments and techniques 
05. General::05.02. Data dissemination::05.02.03. Volcanic eruptions 
Abstract: We have performed a parametric study on the dynamics of trachytic (alkaline) versus rhyolitic (calc-alkaline) eruptions by employing a steady, isothermal, multiphase non-equilibrium model of conduit flow and fragmentation. The employed compositions correspond to a typical rhyolite and to trachytic liquids from Phlegrean Fields eruptions, for which detailed viscosity measurements have been performed. The investigated conditions include conduit diameters in the range 30–90 m and total water contents from 2 to 6 wt%, corresponding to mass flow rates in the range 106–108 kg/s. The numerical results show that rhyolites fragment deep in the conduit and at a gas volume fraction ranging from 0.64 to 0.76, while for trachytes fragmentation is found to occur at much shallower levels and higher vesicularities (0.81–0.85). An unexpected result is that low-viscosity trachytes can be associated with lower mass flow rates with respect to more viscous rhyolites. This is due to the non-linear combined effects of viscosity and water solubility affecting the whole eruption dynamics. The lower viscosity of trachytes, together with higher water solubility, results in delayed fragmentation, or in a longer bubbly flow region within the conduit where viscous forces are dominant. Therefore, the total dissipation due to viscous forces can be higher for the less viscous trachytic magma, depending on the specific conditions and trachytic composition employed. The fragmentation conditions determined through the simulations agree with measured vesicularities in natural pumice clasts of both magma compositions. In fact, vesicularities average 0.80 in pumice from alkaline eruptions at Phlegrean Fields, while they tend to be lower in most calc-alkaline pumices. The results of numerical simulations suggest that higher vesicularities in alkaline products are related to delayed fragmentation of magmas with this composition. Despite large differences in the distribution of flow variables which occur in the deep conduit region and at fragmentation, the flow dynamics of rhyolites and trachytes in the upper conduit and at the vent can be very similar, at equal conduit size and total water content. This is consistent with similar phenomenologies of eruptions associated with the two magma types.
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