Deposits from dome-collapse and fountain-collapse pyroclastic flows at Soufrière Hills Volcano, Montserrat

P. D. Cole, E. S. Calder, R. S.J. Sparks, A. B. Clarke, T. H. Druitt, S. R. Young, R. A. Herd, C. L. Harford, G. E. Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

172 Scopus citations


Pyroclastic flows were formed at Soufrière Hills Volcano by lava-dome collapse and by fountain collapse associated with Vulcanian explosions. Major episodes of dome collapse, lasting tens of minutes to a few hours, followed escalating patterns of progressively larger flows with longer runouts. Block-and-ash flow deposit volumes range from <0.1 to 25 x 106 m3 with runouts of 1-7 km. The flows formed coarse-grained block-and-ash flow deposits, with associated fine-grained pyroclastic surge deposits and ashfall deposits. Small flows commonly formed lobate channelized deposits. Large block-and-ash flows in unconfined areas produced sheet-like deposits with tapering margins. the development of pyroclastic surges was variable depending on topography and dome pore pressure. Pyroclastic surge deposits commonly had a lower layer poor in fine ash that was formed at the current front and an upper layer rich in fine ash. Block-and-ash flows were erosive, producing striated and scoured bedrock surfaces and forming channels, many metres deep, in earlier deposits. Abundant accidental material was incorporated. Pyroclastic flow deposits formed by fountain collapse were pumiceous, with narrow sinuous, lobate morphologies and well developed levees and snouts. Two coastal fans formed where pyroclastic flows entered the sea. Their seaward extent was limited by a submarine slope break.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)231-262
Number of pages32
JournalGeological Society Memoir
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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