Document Type

Article

Date of Original Version

12-8-2012

DOI

10.4236/ns.2012.412129

Abstract

Release of dissolved volatiles during submarine fire fountaining eruptions can profoundly influence the buoyancy flux at the vent. Theoretical considerations indicate that in some cases buoyant magma can be erupted prior to fragmentation (~75% vesicle volume threshold). Laboratory simulations using immiscible fluids of contrasting density indicate that the structure of the source flow at the vent depends critically on the relative magnitudes of buoyancy and momentum fluxes as reflected in the Richardson number (Ri). Analogue laboratory experiments of buoyant discharges demonstrate a variety of complex flow structures with the potential for greatly enhanced entrainment of surrounding seawater. Such conditions are likely to favor a positive feedback between phreatomagmatic explosions and volatile degassing that will contribute to explosive volcanism. The value of the Richardson number for any set of eruption parameters (magma discharge rate and volatile content) will depend on water depth as a result of the extent to which the exsolved volatile components can expand.

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