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Understanding Earth processes and human impacts, plus another look at Mars
Date:3/27/2013

An extraordinarily useful tool for determining paleo-water levels and past ice thicknesses is the architecture of ancient lava-fed deltas. The deltas are distinctive volcanic constructs that form when lavas flow into water, including meltwater lakes created by eruptions in ice sheets. Until now, only one type of lava delta has been recognized, fed by smooth-surfaced slow-moving lava (called pahoehoe). John J. Smellie and colleagues report on lava deltas fed by rough-surfaced faster-moving lava (called 'a'a) and present the first dynamic model for their formation. 'A'a deltas are very different in appearance from pahoehoe-fed deltas, and failure to recognize them can have profound consequences for paleoenvironmental reconstructions of past glacial environments. 'A'a deltas are therefore important tools to use in all paleoenvironmental investigations involving volcanic rocks.


Convection in a volcanic conduit recorded by bubbles

Rebecca J. Carey et al., ARC Centre of Excellence in Ore Deposits, and School of Earth Science, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay, 7005 Tasmania, Australia. Posted online 18 March 2013 as part of the April 2013 issue; http://dx.doi.org/10.1130/G33685.1.

Microtextures of juvenile pyroclasts from Kilauea's early 2008 explosive activity record the velocity and depth of convection within the basaltic magma-filled conduit. Rebecca J. Carey and colleagues use X-ray microtomography to document the spatial distribution of bubbles. They find small bubbles (radii from 5 to 70 micrometers) in a halo surrounding larger millimeter-sized bubbles. This suggests that dissolved water was enriched around the larger bubbles -- the opposite of what is expected if bubbles grow as water diffuses into the bubble. Such volatile enrichment implies that the volatiles within the large bubbles were redissolving into the melt as they descended into the conduit by the
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Contact: Kea Giles
kgiles@geosociety.org
Geological Society of America
Source:Eurekalert

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