Transient effects of magma ascent dynamics along a geometrically variable dome-feeding conduit

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


The transient dynamics of magma ascent during dome-forming eruptions were investigated and the effects of magma chamber pressure perturbations on eruption rate are illustrated. The numerical model DOMEFLOW, developed by the authors for this work, is applied to the problem. DOMEFLOW is a transient 1.5D isothermal two-phase flow model of magma ascent through an axisymmetric conduit of variable radius, which accounts for gas exsolution, bubble growth, crystallization induced by degassing, permeable gas loss through overlying magma and through conduit walls, as well as viscosity changes due to crystallization and degassing. For runs in which chamber pressure increases, the time required to reach the new steady state (transition time) is a complex function of the pressure perturbation, while for decreasing chamber pressure, transition time is a monotonic function of the magnitude of the pressure perturbation. The transition to the new steady state is mainly controlled by magma compressibility, travel time (time required for one parcel of magma to travel from chamber to surface), and the time over which the pressure perturbation occurs. Results of many runs (> 300) were analyzed using dimensional analysis to reveal a general relationship which predicts the temporal evolution of magma effusion rate for a given sudden increase in chamber pressure; the product of the change in steady-state extrusion rate and the time required to reach the new steady state is linearly proportional to the normalized change in chamber pressure, the volume of the conduit, and the ratio of top and bottom conduit radii, and inversely proportional to the cubic root of volatile fraction. This relationship is used to interpret observed variations in two ongoing dome-building eruptions, the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat, and Merapi volcano, Indonesia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Jul 2010


  • Computational model
  • Conduit dynamics
  • Conduit geometry
  • Dome-building
  • Effusion rate
  • Magma ascent

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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