Bubbles, Crystals and Cracks in Cooling Magma
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
Ascent of magma results in drastic drops of pressure and temperature during eruption. Exsolution or dissolution of water changes the physical and chemical properties of the magma and can promote or inhibit the formation of bubbles, crystals and cracks. The microstructural relations between bubbles, crystals and cracks are important records of processes immediately before and during volcanic eruptions and during deposition of volcanic products. This is an integrated study of analyses, conceptual and numerical models of textural relations, and water distribution patterns of natural and experimentally altered samples. Synchrotron Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy and focal plane array detectors open new possibilities for the analysis of the spatial distribution of volatiles in volcanic rocks. New ways of sample preparation, measurements and data analyses helped to create water distribution maps with spatial resolutions that are close to the diffraction limit (~3 μm). In order to constrain eruptive processes and mechanisms of lava emplacement, I describe textural features in volcanic glasses including bubbles, flow bands of crystals or bubbles, spherulites and different generations of cracks. In experiments, bubbles were grown under isobaric conditions, at one or two cooling steps, their textures were described and volume changes tracked. Water distribution patterns in the glass around the textures were described and categorized, and where possible, diffusion modeling was used to infer temperature- and timescales of formation. Rocks that are quenched within short periods of time after bubble growth preserve negative gradients of water toward the bubble margins. These gradients are generally not observed if the sample is kept at high temperatures for extended periods. If, however, a second step of cooling is added, water may be re-dissolved into the surrounding melt, which may lead to the complete resorption of bubbles. A conceptual of water redistribution during bubble resorption or collapse is used to interpret water heterogeneities across linear flow banding. These heterogeneities can be caused by shearing of bubbly magma, leading to collapse, degassing and resorption of water into the melt, creating a bubble free melt. Anhydrous spherulitic crystals grow both above and below the glass transition temperature (Tg) redistributiong water into the surrounding melt. Below Tg, cracks form and are successively hydrated by magmatic water from crystal growth or by meteoric water at temperatures far below Tg. The hydrated perlitic cracks in the samples of this study formed at elevated temperatures and are distinct from cracks formed at ambient temperatures without hydrated margins. This study shows that the heterogeneous distribution of water in volcanic rocks preserves the complex and non-linear degassing and cooling history of eruptive products. The timescales and temperatures discovered here provide new ways to interpret textural observations, water distribution patterns and signals of shallow volcanic unrest.