Subaqueous Explosive Eruption and Welding of Pyroclastic Deposits

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Science  10 Jul 1992:
Vol. 257, Issue 5067, pp. 196-201
DOI: 10.1126/science.257.5067.196


Silicic tuffs infilling an ancient submarine caldera, at Mineral King in California, show microscopic fabrics indicative of welding of glass shards and pumice at temperatures >500°C. The occurrence indicates that subaqueous explosive eruption and emplacement of pyroclastic materials can occur without substantial admixture of the ambient water, which would cause chilling. Intracaldera progressive aggradation of pumice and ash from a thick, fast-moving pyroclastic flow occurred during a short-lived explosive eruption of ∼26 cubic kilometers of magma in water ≥150 meters deep. The thickness, high velocity, and abundant fine material of the erupted gas-solids mixture prevented substantial incorporation of ambient water into the flow. Stripping of pyroclasts from upper surfaces of subaqueous pyroclastic flows in general, both above the vent and along any flow path, may be the main process giving rise to buoyant-convective subaqueous eruption columns and attendant fallout deposits.

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