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Title page for ETD etd-06132014-094318

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Pamukcu, Ayla Susan
Author's Email Address ayla.s.pamukcu@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-06132014-094318
Title Understanding the What, When, Where, and Why of Supereruptions
Degree PhD
Department Earth and Environmental Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Dr. Guilherme A. R. Gualda Committee Chair
Dr. Calvin F. Miller Committee Member
Dr. George M. Hornberger Committee Member
Dr. James H. Clarke Committee Member
Dr. Mark Ghiorso Committee Member
  • geochemistry
  • mineralogy and petrology
Date of Defense 2014-04-07
Availability unrestricted
Supereruptions are rare but giant and violent volcanic eruptions that have the potential to wreak havoc on life and infrastructure. Two key questions surrounding supereruptions are investigated in this work:

(1) What are the timescales over which giant magma bodies accumulate and erupt? Three-dimensional x-ray tomography of quartz-hosted melt inclusions and cathodoluminescence imaging of compositional zoning in quartz crystals are used to assess timescales from melt inclusion faceting and diffusion chronometry, respectively. Results from three eruptions (240 ka Ohakuri-Mamaku, 26.5 ka Oruanui – Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand; 760 ka Bishop Tuff – California, USA) suggest that large to giant systems accumulate over extremely short timescales (101-103 a) and that quartz growth rates are ~10-12-10-12.5 m/s.

(2) What is the geometry of supereruptive systems in the Earth’s crust? Phase-equilibria and amphibole geobarometry are used to investigate the residence depth of the Peach Spring (southwest USA) magma body. Results indicate that this magma body resided at a pressure of ~200-250 MPa. The analysis also shows that rhyolite-MELTS phase-equilibria geobarometry is an excellent method for obtaining pressure information and weeding out altered glass analyses.

Finally, these questions and methods are linked together in an effort to assess the longevity and geometry of a single supereruptive system – the Oruanui, the most recent supereruption in Earth’s history. Melt inclusion faceting indicates this crystal-poor high-silica rhyolite magma was short lived in the crust (101-102 a). Such short timescales are notably different from those derived from some other methods and likely reflect the unstable condition of crystal-poor, buoyant magma parcels residing in the shallow crust, rather than the development of the broad magmatic system and pre-accumulation priming of the crust. Phase-equilibria geobarometry suggests that the typical model of a single magma body is not appropriate to describe the Oruanui magmatic system. Instead, results suggest the Oruanui was comprised of multiple magma batches that resided at different depths in the crust but were erupted contemporaneously. This result fits well with an increasingly common model for supereruptive systems in which several vertically and/or laterally juxtaposed magma bodies are erupted simultaneously.

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