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Magma fragmentation and particle size distributions in low intensity mafic explosions: the July/August 2015 Piton de la Fournaise eruption

Abstract : Understanding magma fragmentation mechanisms in explosive eruptions is a key requirement for volcanic hazard assessment, eruption management and risk mitigation. This paper focuses on a type case small explosivity eruption (July–August 2015 eruption of Piton de la Fournaise). These eruptions, despite being often overlooked, are exceedingly frequent on local-to-global scales and constitute a significant hazard in vent-proximal areas, which are often populated by guides, tourists and, indeed, volcanologists due to their accessibility. The explosions presented here are ideal cases for the study of the dynamics of magma fragmentation and how it relates to the size distribution of scoria generated at the vent. We documented these events visually and thermally, and characterised the products through sample-return. This allowed us to describe small-scale gas bursts sending ejecta up to 30 m during intermittent lava fountains. Surface tension instabilities and inertial forces played a major role in fragmentation processes and generated particles with coarse-skewed distributions and median diameters ranging from − 8 to − 10 ϕ. However, with time distributions of particles in the most energetic fountains shifted towards more symmetrical shapes as median grains sizes became finer. Analyses of sequences of images demonstrate that the evolution of particle size distributions with time is due to instability of magma droplets and (in-flight) fragmentation.
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https://hal.uca.fr/hal-03071623
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Submitted on : Wednesday, December 16, 2020 - 9:41:29 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, April 5, 2022 - 8:26:02 AM
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Matthew Edwards, Laura Pioli, Andrew Harris, Lucia Gurioli, Simon Thivet. Magma fragmentation and particle size distributions in low intensity mafic explosions: the July/August 2015 Piton de la Fournaise eruption. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-020-69976-y⟩. ⟨hal-03071623⟩

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