Evolution of Plinian magmas from Popocatépetl Volcano, México

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2011-08

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Abstract

Fractional crystallization, magma mixing, assimilation of continental crust, and how those processes modify volatile budgets, control the evolution of magma. As a consequence, the understanding of these processes, their magnitudes, and timescales is critical for interpreting ancient magma systems, their eruptions, and the potential future volcanic activity. In this dissertation I present the results of three projects. The first explores how magmatic processes affect magma reservoirs and eruption dynamics. The second explores where in the storage system and how often these processes occur. The third explores how volatile budgets are modified by processes such as crystallization, mixing, and assimilation. Volcán Popocatépetl (central México) erupted ~14100 14C yr BP producing the Tutti Frutti Plinian Eruption (TFPE). The eruption tapped two different silicic magmas that mixed just prior and during the eruption. The influx of mass and volatiles generated during the mixing of both magmas overpressured the reservoir, which was weakened at the top. The weakened reservoir relaxed while magma was tapped and collapsed to form a caldera at the surface. Although it is known that fractional crystallization, mixing, and assimilation can greatly modify magmas, the frequency and intensity of these events is not known. I investigated the magmatic processes responsible for the evolution of magmas erupted during five Plinian events of Popocatépetl volcano. Results show that during the last 23 ky magma was stored in two different zones, and was variably modified by replenishments of mafic magma. Interestingly, little evidence for large mafic inputs triggering explosive eruptions was found. Each of these processes alters the abundances of volatiles and introduces different types of volatiles to the system. Hence, the volatile budget of magma can have a rich and complex history. To investigate how volatile budgets evolve in active magma systems, I analyzed the abundances of volatiles (H2O, CO2, F, Cl, and S) in numerous glass inclusions trapped in phenocrysts. Results show that the magmas that produced the last five Plinian eruptions at Popocatépetl volcano evolved by crystallization and magma mixing, assimilation of the local carbonate basement is not chemically appreciable. Mixing with mafic magmas added substantial CO2 and S to the system, dewatered the magma, yet produced little change in the F contents of the magmas.

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