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Melt stripping and agglutination of pyroclasts during the explosive eruption of low viscosity magmas

Jones, Thomas J. and Russell, James K. and Brown, Richard J. and Hollendonner, Lea (2022) 'Melt stripping and agglutination of pyroclasts during the explosive eruption of low viscosity magmas.', Nature Communications, 13 (1).


Volcanism on Earth and on other planets and satellites is dominated by the eruption of low viscosity magmas. During explosive eruption, high melt temperatures and the inherent low viscosity of the fluidal pyroclasts allow for substantial post-fragmentation modification during transport obscuring the record of primary, magmatic fragmentation processes. Here, we show these syn-eruption modifications, in the form of melt stripping and agglutination, to be advantageous for providing fundamental insights into lava fountain and jet dynamics, including eruption velocities, grain size distributions and melt physical properties. We show how enigmatic, complex pyroclasts termed pelletal lapilli form by a two-stage process operating above the magmatic fragmentation surface. Melt stripping from pyroclast surfaces creates a spray of fine melt droplets whilst sustained transport in the fountain allows for agglutination and droplet scavenging, thereby coarsening the grain size distribution. We conclude with a set of universal regime diagrams, applicable for all fluidal fountain products, that link fundamental physical processes to eruption conditions and melt physical properties.

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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:02 February 2022
Date deposited:16 May 2022
Date of first online publication:22 February 2022
Date first made open access:16 May 2022

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