Earth and Planetary Science
EPS Geophysics

Controls on explosive-effusive volcanic eruption styles

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Controls on explosive-effusive volcanic eruption styles (from, published July 18, 2018) 

by Mike CassidyMichael MangaKathy Cashman & Olivier Bachmann 


“With the increasing global population and stress on natural resources, volcanoes threaten more lives every day… It is thus critical to understand the factors that control whether a volcano erupts effusively or explosively, and to integrate this information into models that provide realistic eruption scenarios. This goal is considered to be one of the three grand challenges in volcano science.”

One of the biggest challenges in volcanic hazard assessment is to understand how and why eruptive style changes within the same eruptive period or even from one eruption to the next at a given volcano. This review evaluates the competing processes that lead to explosive and effusive eruptions of silicic magmas. Eruptive style depends on a set of feedback involving interrelated magmatic properties and processes. Foremost of these are magma viscosity, gas loss and external properties such as conduit geometry. Ultimately, these parameters control the speed at which magmas ascend, decompress and outgas en route to the surface, and thus determine eruptive style and evolution.