Correlations of volcanic ash texture with explosion earthquakes from vulcanian eruptions at Sakurajima volcano, Japan

T. Miwa, A. Toramaru, M. Iguchi

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We compare the texture of volcanic ash with the maximum amplitude of explosion earthquakes (Aeq) for vulcanian eruptions from Sakurajima volcano. We analyze the volcanic ash emitted by 17 vulcanian eruptions from 1974 to 1987. Using a stereoscopic microscope, we classify the glassy particles into smooth surface particles (S-type particles) and non-smooth surface particles (NS-type particles) according to their surface conditions-gloss or non-gloss appearance-as an indicator of the freshness of the particles. S-type particles are further classified into V-type particles (those including vesicles) and NV-type particles (those without vesicles) by means of examinations under a polarized microscopic of polished thin sections. Cross-correlated examinations against seismological data show that: 1) the number fraction of S-type particles (S-fraction) has a positive correlation with Aeq, 2) the number ratio of NV-type particles to V-type particles (the N/V number ratio) has a positive correlation with Aeq, and 3) for explosions accompanied with BL-type earthquake swarms, the N/V number ratio has a negative correlation with the duration of the BL-Swarms. BL-Swarms refer to the phenomenon of numerous BL-type earthquakes occurring within a few days, prior to an increase in explosive activity [Kamo, K., 1978. Some phenomena before the summit crater eruptions at Sakura-zima volcano. Bull. Volcanol. Soc. Japan., 23, 53-64]. The positive correlation between the N/V number ratio and Aeq could indicate that a large amount of separated gas from fresh magma results in a large Aeq. Plagioclase microlite textual analysis of NV-type particles from five explosive events without BL-Swarms shows that the plagioclase microlite number density (MND) and the L/W (length/width) ratio have a positive correlation with Aeq. A comparison between textural data (MND, L/W ratio, crystallinity) and the result of a decompression-induced crystallization experiment [Couch, S., Sparks, R.S.J., Carroll, M.R., 2003. The kinetics of degassing-induced crystallization at Soufriere Hills volcano, Montserrat. J. Petrol., 44, 1477-1502.] suggests that a plagioclase microlite texture of volcanic ash from eruptions without BL-Swarms could be generated by a decompression of 100-160 MPa. If the MND is controlled by the water exsolution rate from melt, the positive correlation between the MND and Aeq may suggest that Aeq becomes large when the effective decompression is large and the water exsolution rate is high (from 6.2 × 10- 5 to 1.9 × 10- 4 wt.%/s). The estimated magma ascent rate ranges from 0.11 to 0.35 m/s, which is one order of magnitude faster than that of an effusive eruption, and one to three orders slower than those for a (sub-) plinian eruption. This suggests that the ascent rate of magma plays an important role in the occurrence of vulcanian eruptions. We propose a simple model for vulcanian eruptions at Sakurajima volcano that takes into account the correlation between the S-fraction and Aeq.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)473-486
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - Jul 20 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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