, Volume 56, Issue 2, pp 121-132

Sedimentological analysis of the tephra from the 12–15 August 1991 eruption of Hudson volcano

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Abstract

The tephra fallout from the 12–15 August 1991 explosive eruption of Hudson volcano (Cordillera de los Andes, 45°54′ S-72°58′ W; Chile) was dispersed on a narrow, elongated ESE sector of Patagonia, covering an area (on land) of more than 100 000 km2. The elongated shape of the deposit, together with the relatively coarse mean and median values of the particles at a considerable distance from the vent, were the result of strong winds blowing to the southeast during the eruption. The thickness of the fall deposit decreases up to 250 km ESE from Hudson volcano, where it begins to thicken again. Secondary maxima are well developed at approximately 500 km from the vent. Secondary maxima, together with grainsize bimodality in individual layers and in the bulk deposit suggest that particle aggregation played an important role in tephra sedimentation. The fallout deposit is well stratified, with alternating fine-grained and coarsegrained layers, which is probably a result of strong eruptive pulses followed by relatively calm periods and/or changes in the eruptive style from plinian to phreatoplinian. The tephra is mostly composed of juvenile material: the coarse mode (mostly pumice) shifts to finer sizes with distance from the volcano; the fine mode (mostly glass shards) is always about 5/6 phi. Glass shards and pumice are mostly light gray to colorless. However, considerable amounts of dark, poorly vesiculated, blocky shards, suggest a hydromagmatic component in the eruption. A land-based tephra volume of 4.35 km3 was estimated, and a total volume of 7.6 km3 arose from an extrapolation, which took into account the probable volume sedimented in the sea. Bulk density ranges from 0.9 to 1.10 gr/cm3 (beyond 110 km from the vent). Rather uniform density values measured in crushed samples (2.45–2.50 gr/cm3 at all distances from the vent) reveal a relatively homogeneous composition. Mean and median sizes decrease rapidly up to 270 km from the vent; beyond that point they are more or less constant, whereas the maximum size (1 phi) shows a steady decrease up to 550 km. A concomitant improvement in sorting is observed. This is attributed to sorting due to wind transport combined with particle aggregation at different times and distances from the vent. The Hudson tephra fallout shares some strikingly similar features with the Mount St. Helens (18 May 1980) and Quizapu (1932) eruptions.