Numerical simulations of convection in crystal-bearing magmas: a case study of the magmatic system at Erebus, Antarctica

Abstract : The sustained heat and gas output from Erebus volcano reflects a regime of magma convection that we investigate here using a bi-phase (melt and crystals), fluid dynamical model. Following validity and verification tests of the model, we carried out four single-phase and three bi-phase numerical 30-year- simulations, in an idealized 2D geometry representing a lava lake cooled from above and a reservoir heated from below that are linked by a 4-to-10-m-diameter conduit. We tested the effects of crystals on convection while changing conduit size and the system boundaries from closed to open. Neglecting crystal settling yields only a limited number of features, i.e., (i) the formation of a central instability, (ii) the average temperature evolution, and (iii) the average velocity range of the surface flow motion. Biphase simulations show that while crystals are quite efficiently transported by the liquid phase a small decoupling reflecting their large size (5 cm) results in settling. This leads to more complex circulation patterns and enhances the vigor of fluid motion. A sufficiently large conduit sustains convection and retains 6 and 20% of crystals in suspension, for a closed and open system, respectively. Model outputs do not yet correspond well with field observations of Erebus lava lake (e.g., real surface velocities are much faster than those modeled), suggesting that exsolved volatiles are an important source of buoyancy.
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Indira Molina, Alain Burgisser, Clive Oppenheimer. Numerical simulations of convection in crystal-bearing magmas: a case study of the magmatic system at Erebus, Antarctica. Journal of Geophysical Research : Solid Earth, American Geophysical Union, 2012, 117, pp.B07209. ⟨10.1029/2011JB008760⟩. ⟨insu-00712931⟩

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