Syn-eruptive breakdown of pyrrhotite: a record of magma fragmentation, air entrainment, and oxidation

  • Keiko MatsumotoEmail author
  • Michihiko Nakamura
Original Paper


Air entrainment in fragmented magmas controls the dynamics of volcanic eruptions. Pyroclast oxidation kinetics may be applied to quantify the degree of magma–air interaction. Pyrrhotite (Po) in volcanic rocks is often oxidized to form magnetite (Mt) and hematite (Hm), and its reaction mechanisms are well constrained. To test utilizing Po oxidation as a marker for magma–air interactions, we compared the occurrence of Po oxidation products from three different eruption styles during the Sakurajima 1914–1915 eruption. Pumices from the Plinian eruption include columnar-type Fe oxides (Mt with subordinate width of Hm) often accompanied by relict Po. This columnar type is also found in clastogenic lava, where it is almost completely oxidized to Hm. The effusive lava contains framboidal aggregates of subhedral to anhedral Mt crystals without Hm. The formation mechanisms of columnar and framboidal Fe oxides were estimated. The columnar type Fe oxides were formed syn-eruptively through gaseous reactions, as opposed to the melt in a magma chamber, as demonstrated by the Ti-free nature of the columnar Mt and its synchronous oxidation to Hm. By contrast, the framboidal type was formed in a melt with decreasing fS2. The calculation of Hm growth in a conductively cooling pumice clast constrains the surface temperature of pumice in the eruption column. The paragenesis and oxidation degree of Po and Fe oxides are consistent with the eruption processes in terms of magma fragmentation, air entrainment, and welding, and can, therefore, be a responsive marker for the magma–air interaction.


Pyrrhotite Oxidation Fragmentation Air entrainment Sakurajima 



We are grateful to M. Yasui and H. Shimizu for helping with the field work and sampling. We thank N. Tsuchiya and R. Yamada for help with the Raman spectroscopy and reflected light microscopic analysis, respectively, N. Geshi and I. Yamada with EDS analysis, and T. Sato and M. Ushioda with EPMA analysis. We benefitted from discussions with S. Okumura and A. Audétat. The present work was supported in part through the Program for Leading Graduate Schools, “Inter-Graduate School Doctoral Degree Program on Global Safety,” by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. This work was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Numbers JP 1 6J 0 1 8 8 8 to KM, and JP25287141 and JP16H06348 to MN.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 48 kb)
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Supplementary material 2 (XLSX 16 kb)


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Geological Survey of JapanAISTTsukubaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Earth Science, Graduate School of ScienceTohoku UniversitySendaiJapan

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