Bulletin Volcanologique

, 41:196 | Cite as

Characteristics of widespread pyroclastic deposits formed by the interaction of silicic magma and water

  • S. Self
  • R. S. J. Sparks


We have recognized a type of pyroclastic deposit formed by the interaction of water and silicic magma during explosive eruptions. These deposits have a widespread dispersal, similar to plinian tephra, but the overall grain size is much tiner. Several deposits studied can be associated with caldera lakes or sea water and water/magma interaction is proposed to account for the fine grain size.

Several examples have been studied, including the Oruanui Formation, N.Z., and the Askja 1875 deposit. Both show little downwind decrease in median diameter, a downwind decrease in sorting (σφ) (more evident in the Askja deposit) and coarse tail grading. The Askja example has base surge deposits near source and some Oruanui members show multiple thin beds near source; both are common features of phreatomagmatic deposits. Isopachs of the Askja deposit indicate a source under Lake Oskjuvatn in Askja Caldera and those of the Oruanui indicate a source under the NW part of Lake Taupo.

In terms of dispersal area, volume and calculated eruption column heights, these deposits are similar to plinian. However, their extreme fragmentation due to magma/water interaction, superimposed on fragmentation imparted by carlier vesiculation, gives a much finer and more complex grain size distribution than plinian counterparts. The field of phreatomagmatic equivalents to plinian pumice deposits was unoccupied onWalker’s (1973) classification of explosive volcanic eruptions. Such deposits are the phreatomagmatic analogue of plinian deposits and the name « phreatoplinian » is proposed.


Tephra Pyroclastic Deposit Fall Deposit Pumice Clast Tuff Ring 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Intern. Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Self
    • 1
  • R. S. J. Sparks
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  2. 2.Graduate School of OceanographyUniversity of Rhode IslandKingstonUSA

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