Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 72–81

The dynamics of magma-mixing during flow in volcanic conduits

  • Stephen Blake
  • Ian H. Campbell

DOI: 10.1007/BF00371228

Cite this article as:
Blake, S. & Campbell, I.H. Contr. Mineral. and Petrol. (1986) 94: 72. doi:10.1007/BF00371228


The production of mixed magmas (streaky pumice) during flow in a volcanic conduit has been modelled in the laboratory by studying the flow of two miscible fluids of differing viscosity passing concentrically through a vertical pipe. In the experiments reported in this paper, the outermost fluid is the more viscous, as would be the case when two magmas are simultaneously tapped from a zoned chamber in which silicic magma overlies mafic magma. At a Reynolds number (Re) which is much less than that required for turbulence in isoviscous pipe flow, the interface between two liquids of different viscosity can become unstable. Growth of the instability and mixing proceed when Re, based on the properties of the inner, less viscous fluid (Rei), is greater than approximately 3 if between 10% and 90% of the flowing fluid is composed of the more viscous fluid. Outside this range of flow rate ratios, higher Rei and viscosity ratios are required to ensure mixing. When the viscosity ratio U≤10 the unstable flow takes the form of an asymmetric, sinusoidal wave and at higher viscosity ratios axisymmetric, bead-like waves are the dominant instability. Entrainment across the boundaries of these wavy interfaces results in the production of streaky mixtures of the two liquids. The degree of mixing increases with Re1, U and distance downstream. Application of experimental results to magmatic situations shows that mixing will be possible in eruptions which tap layers of different viscosity from a stratified chamber. If a volcanic feeder is allowed to become lined by silicic magma before a mafic magma layer is drawn up from the chamber then a mixed pumice (or lava) sequence will ensue. Alternatively, if draw-up occurs when the feeder is still propagating away from the chamber, the slower flowing silicic magma may be overtaken by the faster flowing mafic magma. The advancing conduit will then have mafic or hybrid chilled margins enclosing a silicic interior, i.e. the usual arrangement in composite dykes and sills. Simultaneous tapping of silicic and underlying mafic magmas from a chamber can thus lead to magma mixing and to the emplacement of either mixed pumice sequences or composite intrusions, depending on the history of magma withdrawal and the dynamics of flow in the conduit.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Blake
    • 1
  • Ian H. Campbell
    • 1
  1. 1.Research School of Earth SciencesAustralian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of GeologyAuckland UniversityAucklandNew Zealand