Spinifex texture of native sulfur: A cooling product of sulfur flow eruptions at Shiretoko-Iwozan volcano, Hokkaido, Japan

Akira Imai, Nobuo Geshi

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Several native sulfur specimens, collected from Shiretoko-Iwozan volcano, eastern Hokkaido, Japan, exhibit spinifex texture, which appears to resemble that often observed in komatiite. The spinifex texture is exhibited by yellow-colored elongated skeletal native sulfur crystals up to 5 cm long settled in medium gray-colored fine-grained clayey matrix. One surface of a specimen is coated by layers of micro pillow lava of native sulfur. Such specimens were rarely found as clasts or fragments around the 1936 No. 1 crater that erupted native sulfur flows, together with the most common monomineralic native sulfur fragments of native sulfur flows having pahoehoe surface and of native sulfur dikes. The elongated spinifex native sulfur crystals presently consist of aggregated polygrains of orthorhombic sulfur crystals formed through crystallographic transition from the single crystal of monoclinic sulfur initially crystallized. The spinifex texture exhibited by elongated skeletal native sulfur crystals is a product of rapid cooling of sulfur melt. Many lithic fragments of altered country rocks are present in the specimens exhibiting native sulfur spinifex texture. This suggests that segregation of the sulfur melt from the mixture of lithic fragments and sulfur melt was incomplete because the mixture was chilled before the melt segregation. Elongated skeletal native sulfur crystals may have nucleated and crystallized directly from the molten sulfur liquid. Lithic fragments mixed in the melt are supposed to have acted as nuclei for the nucleation of the native sulfur crystals. On the other hand, the most of native sulfur flows consist of monomineralic massive native sulfur with very scarce lithic fragments. Such massive monomineralic native sulfur crystallized from the supercooled, solidified amorphous sulfur. Such supercooled amorphous state may have been attained due to the lack of nuclei because of the scarcity of lithic fragments. The unique structures exhibited by native sulfur lava flow, including pahoehoe surface and spinifex texture, are due to the characteristic physical property of molten sulfur liquid, that is, low viscosity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalResource Geology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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