Extrusion cycles during dome-building eruptions

M. De' Michieli Vitturi, Amanda Clarke, A. Neri, B. Voight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


We identify and quantify controls on the timescales and magnitudes of cyclic (periodic) volcanic eruptions using the numerical model DOMEFLOW (de' Michieli Vitturi et al., 2010) which was developed by the authors for magma systems of intermediate composition. DOMEFLOW treats the magma mixture as a liquid continuum with dispersed gas bubbles and crystals in thermodynamic equilibrium with the melt and assumes a modified Poiseuille form of the viscous term for fully developed laminar flow in a conduit of cylindrical cross-section. During ascent, magma pressure decreases and water vapor exsolves and partially degasses from the melt as the melt simultaneously crystallizes, causing changes in mixture density and viscosity. Two mechanisms previously proposed to cause periodic eruption behavior have been implemented in the model and their corresponding timescales explored. The first applies a stick-slip model in which motion of a shallow solid plug is resisted by static/dynamic friction, as described in Iverson et al. (2006). For a constant magma supply rate at depth, this mechanism yields cyclic extrusion with timescales of seconds to tens of seconds with values generally depending on assumed friction coefficients. The second mechanism does not consider friction but treats the plug as a high-viscosity Newtonian fluid. During viscous resistance, pressure beneath the degassed plug can increase sufficiently to overcome dome overburden, plug weight, and viscous forces, and ultimately drive the plug from the conduit. In this second model cycle periods are on the order of hours, and decrease with increasing magma supply rate until a threshold is reached, at which point periodicity disappears and extrusion rate becomes steady (vanishingly short periods). Magma volatile content for fixed chamber pressure has little effect on cycle timescales, but increasing volatile content increases mass flow rate and cycle magnitude as defined by the difference between maximum and minimum extrusion rates. Increasing mass flow rate also increases the magnitude of predicted deformation cycles. Both models have been applied to dome-building eruptions using conditions appropriate for the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat. Results suggest that the modeled stick-slip mechanism cannot explain the cycles of extrusion and explosion well-documented at Montserrat (timescales of hours). However, a subset of the simulations for the viscous plug model are consistent with the Montserrat data and therefore demonstrate the feasibility of this second formulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-48
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
StatePublished - Jun 2013


  • Conduit dynamics
  • Cyclic activity
  • Dome extrusion
  • Lateral degassing
  • Magma ascent
  • Stick-slip

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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