Coupled effect of magma degassing and rheology on silicic volcanism

Satoshi Okumura, Michihiko Nakamura, Kentaro Uesugi, Tsukasa Nakano, Takuma Fujioka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Citations (Scopus)


Explosive volcanism such as the 1991 Mt. Pinatubo, Philippines, and the 2008 Mt. Chaitén, Chile, eruptions is caused by violent vesiculation of hydrous magma. However, gas may efficiently separate from magma owing to the enhancement of gas permeability by shear deformation of magma flowing in a volcanic conduit. This makes it difficult to maintain the driving force of explosive volcanism although explosive volcanism is actually common. Here, we propose that shear localization in a volcanic conduit controls the eruption style and explosivity based on deformation experiments of vesicular magma linked with synchrotron radiation X-ray radiography and computed tomography. We observed, for the first time in situ, that the shear localization caused magma fracturing and formed a slip plane, and thus inhibited deformation and outgassing elsewhere. We also observed the compaction of vesicular magma into a dense "lava" as a result of outgassing when shear localization did not occur. In a natural setting, shear localizes along the edges of a volcanic conduit, where the strain rate is high, causing a highly permeable fracturing layer to form at the conduit's edge and leaving less-sheared and less-outgassed magma at its center. The less-outgassed magma in the center may ascend rapidly and cause explosive volcanism. Non-explosive lava effusion may occur only when shear localization does not occur effectively. This new view explains the rapid ascent of viscous magma and the formation of pyroclasts with contrasting vesicularity (pyroclastic obsidian and highly vesiculated pumice).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-170
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 2013 Jan 5


  • In situ fast X-ray CT
  • Magma degassing
  • Magma rheology
  • Shear localization
  • Volcanic eruption
  • X-ray radiography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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