Shallow conduit processes during the ad 1158 explosive eruption of Hekla volcano, Iceland
Hekla is one of the most frequently active felsic volcanic systems in the world, with several known pre-historic large Plinian eruptions and 18 historical subplinian to small Plinian eruptions. A common view is that Plinian eruptions of Hekla are relatively short lived and purely explosive events. In detail, these events exhibit subtle differences in terms of deposit characteristics, reflecting significant differences in eruption behaviour. Of the 18 historical eruptions, two had bulk magma compositions with >66 wt% SiO2: a Plinian eruption in ad 1104 and a smaller, less well characterised, but atypical subplinian eruption in ad 1158. The ad 1158 eruption was a relatively sustained, dry (magmatic) eruption with a more powerful opening phase followed by a lower intensity, waning phase accompanied by minor destabilisation and collapse of the conduit walls. We examine here the dynamics of the ad 1158 eruption, focussing on the role of shallow conduit processes in modulating eruption dynamics. Vesicularity data constrain the relative influence of bubble nucleation, growth, and coalescence. The juvenile pyroclasts are composed of two types of microvesicular pumice (white and grey) with contrasting vesicle number density, vesicle-size distribution, and phenocryst and microlite contents. Textural analysis shows that these pumices reflect heterogeneity developed pre- to syn-eruptively in the conduit and that entrainment of longer resident magma by faster ascending magma permitted magma of contrasting maturity to be fragmented simultaneously. In this regard, the mixed melt of the ad 1158 eruption contrasts with the compositionally homogeneous melt phase of the more powerful ad 1104 Plinian event, which was typified by more uniform conduit and eruption dynamics accompanying higher average ascent rates.
KeywordsHekla volcano Plinian eruptions Eruption style Vesicle number density
This research was funded by the National Science Foundation grant EAR12-20596. The manuscript was significantly enhanced by insightful reviews by editor J. Gardner and two anonymous reviewers, and comments from D. A. Swanson and S. A. Fagents. The authors are grateful to Carolyn Parcheta for assistance with fieldwork; Isaac Ishihara for density analysis; JoAnn Sinton for thin section polishing; and Eva Kakone, Hannah Azouz, and Jaclyn Guenther for image processing.
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