Original Paper

Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 165, Issue 1, pp 129-153

First online:

Volatile loss from melt inclusions in pyroclasts of differing sizes

  • Alexander S. LloydAffiliated withLamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University Email author 
  • , Terry PlankAffiliated withLamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
  • , Philipp RuprechtAffiliated withLamont Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
  • , Erik H. HauriAffiliated withCarnegie Institution of Washington
  • , William RoseAffiliated withMichigan Tech University

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We have investigated the loss of H2O from olivine-hosted melt inclusions (MIs) by designing an experiment using tephra samples that cooled at different rates owing to their different sizes: ash, lapilli, and bomb samples that were deposited on the same day (10/17/74) of the sub-Plinian eruption of Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala. Ion microprobe, laser ablation-ICPMS, and electron probe analyses show that MIs from ash and lapilli record the highest H2O contents, up to 4.4 wt%. On the other hand, MIs from bombs indicate up to 30 % lower H2O contents (loss of ~1 wt% H2O) and 10 % post-entrapment crystallization of olivine. This evidence is consistent with the longer cooling time available for a bomb-sized clast, up to 10 min for a 3–4-cm radius bomb, assuming conductive cooling and the fastest H diffusivities measured in olivine (D~10−9 to 10−10 m2/s). On the other hand, several lines of evidence point to some water loss prior to eruption, during magma ascent and degassing in the conduit. Thus, results point to both slower post-eruptive cooling and slower magma ascent affecting MIs from bombs, leading to H2O loss over the timescale of minutes to hours. The important implication of this study is that a significant portion of the published data on H2O concentrations in olivine-hosted MIs may reflect unrecognized H2O loss via diffusion. This work highlights the importance of reporting clast and MI sizes in order to assess diffusive effects and the potential benefit of using water loss as a chronometer of magma ascent.


Melt inclusion Olivine Water concentration Diffusive re-equilibration rate Volatiles Magma ascent