We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. By continuing to browse this repository, you give consent for essential cookies to be used. You can read more about our Privacy and Cookie Policy.

Durham Research Online
You are in:

Spatter matters – distinguishing primary (eruptive) and secondary (non-eruptive) spatter deposits.

Jones, T.J. and Houghton, B.F. and Llewellin, E.W. and Parcheta, C. and Höltgen, L. (2018) 'Spatter matters – distinguishing primary (eruptive) and secondary (non-eruptive) spatter deposits.', Scientific reports., 8 . p. 9179.


Spatter is a common pyroclastic product of hawaiian fountaining, which typically forms vent-proximal ramparts or cones. Based on textural characteristics and field relations of spatter from the 1969 Mauna Ulu eruption of Kīlauea, Hawai’i, three spatter types were identified: (1) Primary spatter deposited as spatter ramparts and isolated cones during the peak of episode 1; (2) Late-stage spatter comprising dense, small volume, vent proximal deposits, formed at the end of episode 1; (3) Secondary spatter preserved in isolated mounds around tectonic ground cracks that we interpret to have formed by the disruption of overlying lava. We propose that not all spatter deposits are evidence of primary magmatic fountaining. Rather, deposits can be “secondary” in nature and associated with lava drain-back, disruption, and subsequent ejection from tectonic cracks. Importantly, these secondary pyroclastic deposits are difficult to distinguish from primary eruptive features based on field relations and bulk clast vesicularity alone, allowing for the potential misinterpretation of eruption vents, on Earth and in remotely sensed planetary data, thereby misinforming hazard maps and probabilistic assessments. Here, we show that vesicle number density provides a statistically-robust metric by which to discriminate primary and secondary spatter, supporting accurate identification of eruptive vents.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(VoR) Version of Record
Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
Download PDF
Publisher Web site:
Publisher statement:This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Date accepted:29 May 2018
Date deposited:15 June 2018
Date of first online publication:15 June 2018
Date first made open access:No date available

Save or Share this output

Look up in GoogleScholar