• The influence of phenocrysts in silicic magma degassing

      deGraffenried, Rebecca; Larsen, Jessica; Freymueller, Jeffrey; Izbekov, Pavel (2017-08)
      Understanding the degassing process in magma is an important goal because of the first-order control it exerts on determining eruption style. Degassing in high viscosity magmas is of particular interest since these magmas tend to erupt explosively. However, the role of phenocrysts in the degassing process is still poorly constrained, though recent data indicate that the presence of phenocrysts should promote permeability development at lower porosities than in crystal-free magmas. This study specifically examined the effect of phenocrysts in a rhyolitic magma, but the results can also be applied to crystal-rich intermediate magmas that have rhyolitic matrix melts. Isothermal decompression experiments were conducted using powdered rhyolite (76 wt. % SiO2) and seeded with corundum (Al2O3) crystals to approximate magmas with 20 and 40 vol. % phenocrysts. Experiments were saturated at 900˚C and 110 MPa then continuously decompressed to final pressures between 75 and 15 MPa. Percolation threshold was determined by measuring permeability on a benchtop permeameter and measuring porosity from reflected light images. Additionally, vesicle structure was assessed by measuring pore throat radii from back-scattered electron images and plotting bubble size distributions. Finally, degassing state was checked by measuring dissolved water contents in the glass with Fourier Transform Infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy analyses. The addition of at least 20 vol. % phenocrysts resulted in a decrease in percolation threshold from 70-80 vol. % porosity in crystal-free rhyolites to 55 vol. % porosity. Bubble size distribution patterns indicate that coalescence was more widespread as final pressure decreased and crystal content increased. Minimum pore throat radii in the 40 vol. % phenocryst series were larger than in the 20 vol.% phenocryst and crystal-free series. The dissolved water measurements indicate that these experiments degassed in equilibrium even at the fast decompression rate of 0.25 MPa/s. Calculations of the magnitude of outgassing from the decreased percolation threshold and timescales of pressure dissipation indicate that the presence of phenocrysts plays a role in the effusive-explosive cyclicity of Vulcanian-style eruptions.