Influence of conduit flow mechanics on magma rheology and the growth style of lava domes

Taha Husain, Derek Elsworth, Barry Voight, Glen Mattioli, Pamela Jansma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


We develop a 2-D particle-mechanics model to explore different lava-dome growth styles. These range from endogenous lava dome growth comprising expansion of a ductile dome core to the exogenous extrusion of a degassed lava plug resulting in generation of a lava spine. We couple conduit flow dynamics with surface growth of the evolving lava dome, fuelled by an open-system magma chamber undergoing continuous replenishment. The conduit flow model accounts for the variation in rheology of ascending magma that results from degassing-induced crystallization. A period of reduced effusive flow rates promote enhanced degassing-induced crystallization. A degassed lava plug extrudes exogenously for magmas with crystal contents (f) of 78 per cent, yield strength > 1.62 MPa, and at flow rates of < 0.5 m3 s-1, while endogenous dome growth is predicted at higher flow rates (Qout > 3 m3 s-1) for magma with lower relative yield strengths ( < 1 MPa). At moderately high flow rates (Qout = 4 m3 s-1), the extrusion of magma with lower crystal content (62 per cent) and low interparticulate yield strength (0.6 MPa) results in the development of endogenous shear lobes. Our simulations model the periodic extrusion history at Mount St. Helens (1980-1983). Endogenous growth initiates in the simulated lava dome with the extrusion of low yield strength magma (π = 0.63 and τp = 0.76 MPa) after the crystallized viscous plug (π = 0.87 and τp = 3 MPa) at the conduit exit is forced out by the high discharge rate pulse (2 < Qout < 12 m3 s-1). The size of the endogenous viscous plug and the occurrence of exogenous growth depend on magma yield strength and the magma chamber volume, which control the periodicity of the effusion. Our simulations generate dome morphologies similar to those observed at Mount St Helens, and demonstrate the degree to which domes can sag and spread during and following extrusion pulses. This process, which has been observed atMount St. Helens and other locations, largely reflects gravitational loading of dome with a viscous core, with retardation by yield strength and talus friction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1768-1784
Number of pages17
JournalGeophysical Journal International
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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