Articles | Volume 5, issue 1
Solid Earth, 5, 199–208, 2014
Solid Earth, 5, 199–208, 2014

Short communication 09 Apr 2014

Short communication | 09 Apr 2014

Seismogenic frictional melting in the magmatic column

J. E. Kendrick1,2, Y. Lavallée1, K.-U. Hess2, S. De Angelis1, A. Ferk2,3, H. E. Gaunt4, P. G. Meredith4, D. B. Dingwell2, and R. Leonhardt3 J. E. Kendrick et al.
  • 1School of Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, L69 3GP, UK
  • 2Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität, Theresienstr. 41, 80333 Munich, Germany
  • 3Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics, 1190 Vienna, Austria
  • 4Rock & Ice Physics Laboratory, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, Gower Street, London, UK

Abstract. Lava dome eruptions subjected to high extrusion rates commonly evolve from endogenous to exogenous growth and limits to their structural stability hold catastrophic potential as explosive eruption triggers. In the conduit, strain localisation in magma, accompanied by seismogenic failure, marks the onset of brittle magma ascent dynamics. The rock record of exogenous dome structures preserves vestiges of cataclastic processes and thermal anomalies, key to unravelling subsurface processes. Here, a combined structural, thermal and magnetic investigation of a shear band crosscutting a large block erupted in 2010 at Soufrière Hills volcano (SHV) reveals evidence of faulting and frictional melting within the magmatic column. The mineralogy of this pseudotachylyte vein offers confirmation of complete recrystallisation, altering the structure, porosity and permeability of the material, and the magnetic signature typifies local electric currents in faults. Such melting events may be linked to the step-wise extrusion of magma accompanied by repetitive long-period (LP) drumbeat seismicity at SHV. Frictional melting of Soufrière Hills andesite in a high velocity rotary shear apparatus highlights the small slip distances (< 15 cm) thought to be required to bring 800 °C magma to melting point at upper conduit stress conditions (10 MPa). We conclude that frictional melting is a common consequence of seismogenic magma fracture during dome building eruptions and that it may govern the ascent of magma in the upper conduit.