Influence of pre-eruptive degassing and crystallization on the juvenile products of laterally directed volcanic explosions

Owen K. Neill, Julia E. Hammer, Pavel E. Izbekov, Marina G. Belousova, Alexander B. Belousov, Amanda Clarke, Barry Voight

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Strikingly similar examples of edifice collapse and directed blast are the 18 May 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens (MSH), Washington, USA, and the 30 March 1956 eruption of Bezymianny Volcano (BZ), Kamchatka, Russia. In these cases, flank failures led to near-instantaneous decompression and fragmentation of intra-edifice cryptodome magma, which produced catastrophic, laterally directed blasts. In both instances, the blast products consisted of juvenile material with bimodal density/vesicularity distributions: low- and high-density modes at 1900 and 2400kgm-3 for BZ, 1600 and 2300kgm-3 for MSH, although the proportion of high-density material is greater at BZ. Blast materials also exhibit striking variety in groundmass crystallinity (<40 to >90vol.%) despite having fairly uniform pheno-crystallinities, suggesting that degassing-driven groundmass crystallization occurred to varying extents within cryptodome magma at both volcanoes. New bulk-rock H2O and ∂D measurements confirm that progressive open-system outgassing occurred prior to both blasts. The correlations between crystallinity, clast density, and bulk H2O contents suggest that syn-blast magma expansion was modulated both by non-uniform volatile distribution within the cryptodome and rheological controls associated with non-uniform crystal content. Spatial heterogeneities in volatiles and crystallinity within a given cryptodome are attributed to distance from the wallrock margin, which probably correlates with timing of magma injection. The greater proportion of high-density material at BZ is speculatively related to lower blast energy compared with MSH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)264-274
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Bezymianny
  • Bubble growth
  • Cryptodome
  • Directed blast
  • Mount St. Helens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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