The pre-eruption conditions for explosive eruptions at Merapi volcano as revealed by crystal texture and mineralogy

Sabrina Innocenti, Supriyati Andreastuti, Tanya Furman, Mary Ann del Marmol, Barry Voight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We analyze the textures and mineralogy of Merapi tephra generated during explosive VEI 3-4 eruptions over the past 2000. years, and compare these data with those observed for Merapi dome and flow lavas. We find that the Merapi pumiceous tephra and lava textures differ significantly with respect to small-size crystal populations, but that phenocryst textures are generally similar. A similar initial phase of crystallization is indicated for tephras and lavas in mid-crustal (>. 10. km depth) reservoirs. Subsequent textural differences are mainly affected by ascent rate and degassing during ascent, and, for dome lavas, with temporary storage in shallower reservoirs. These differences also correspond to different eruptive styles. Our analyses include study of pumices, lava, and breadcrust-bomb samples, including samples from some of the most recent explosive episodes prior to the 2010 eruption. Textural analyses of youthful breadcrust bomb samples yield insights on one type of transition between effusive and explosive eruptive styles, involving pressure build-up under a degassed crystalline shallow-conduit plug. In general, comparison of the crystal size distributions and calculated residence times among the effusive and explosive eruptive styles suggests that the two main magma-product types resided for similar lengths of time in a mid-crustal reservoir, before ascending toward the surface and either erupting explosively (tephra), or stagnating in a shallow magma chamber prior to extrusion (lava). The interpretation is supported by the occurrences of amphibole in pristine condition in tephra and in altered state in lava. Finally the 1872 and 2010 explosive eruptions are examined and compared with others over the past three millennia. The 2010 bulk-rock compositions overlap with products of other major explosive Merapi eruptions, such as the Ngrangkah, Tegalsruni, Temusari, and Kepuharjo tephras. The 2010 products show a gradational late-stage mafic enrichment, dissimilar to 1872 which showed little (<. 1%) compositional variation, but similar to the Ngrangkah, Tegalsruni, and Temusari tephras. Such variation implies conventional withdrawal from a zoned magma chamber, with the more-evolved products being erupted first.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-86
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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