Model experiment on magma fragmentation in explosive volcanic eruption

Hiroaki Yamamoto, Kazuyoshi Takayama, Ken'ichi Ishikawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


A new experimental facility has been developed to investigate the fragmentation of vesicular, magma undergoing rapid decompression. The facility based on a vertical shock tube was designed and constructed to produce starch syrup foams of high void fraction but low permeability, high liquid viscosity, and at high pressure as alternative to foamy magma exposed to expansion waves. The highly viscous material (starch syrup) of dynamic shear viscosities ranging from 5 to 1012 Pa s were intermixed with nitrogen gas bubbles under 1.6 to 2.6 MPa and were subsequently loaded into an acrylic test section. The foamy starch syrup was pressurized up to 2.6 MPa and then rapidly decompressed to 0.1 MPa, which caused its fragmentation and simultaneous ejection of the fragmentation products into a large-volume chamber. In ejecting high-pressure foam into low-pressure chamber, the foam's fragmentation process was characterized with the help of pressure measurements and high-speed video recording. Prior to decompression experiments, we examined the viscoelastic properties of the foam specimens by using a rheometer. The rapid decompression generated wide varieties of fragment shapes similar to those observable in volcanic explosions, such as elongated to blocky pumice and flat, pointed shards with smooth or conchoidal fracture. The results prove that a shock dynamic approach is effective to model magma fragmentations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-203
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Mineralogical and Petrological Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Analogue experiment
  • Magma fragmentation
  • Rapid decompression
  • Starch syrup
  • Visco-elastic material
  • Volcanic explosion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geology


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