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Effects of experimental reheating of natural basaltic ash at different temperatures and redox conditions

Abstract : A set of experiments have been performed on volcanic materials from Etna, Stromboli and Vesuvius in order to evaluate how the exposure to thermal and redox conditions close to that of active craters affects the texture and composition of juvenile pyroclasts. Selected samples were placed within a quartz tube, in presence of air or under vacuum, and kept at T between 700 and 1,130 °C, for variable time (40 min to 12 h). Results show that reheating reactivates the melt, which, through processes of chemical and thermal diffusion, reaches new equilibrium conditions. In all the experiments performed at T = 700-750 °C, a large number of crystal nuclei and spherulites grows in the groundmass, suggesting conditions of high undercooling. This process creates textural heterogeneities at the scale of few microns but only limited changes of groundmass composition, which remains clustered around that of the natural glasses. Reheating at T = 1,000-1,050 °C promotes massive groundmass crystallization, with a different mineral assemblage as a function of the redox conditions. Morphological modifications of clasts, from softening to sintering as temperature increases, occur under these conditions, accompanied by progressive smoothing of external surfaces, and a reduction in size and abundance of vesicles, until the complete obliteration of the pre-existing vesicularity. The transition from sintering to welding, characteristic of high temperature, is influenced by redox conditions. Experiments at T = 1,100-1,130 °C and under vacuum produce groundmass textures and glass compositions similar to that of the respective starting material. Collapse and welding of the clasts cause significant densification of the whole charge. At the same temperature, but in presence of air, experimental products at least result sintered and show holocrystalline groundmass. In all experiments, sublimates grow on the external surfaces of the clasts or form a lining on the bubble walls. Their shape and composition is a function of temperature and fO2 and the abundance of sublimates shows a peak at 1,000 °C. The identification of the features recorded by pyroclasts during complex heating-cooling cycles allows reconstructing the complete clasts history before their final emplacement, during weakly explosive volcanic activity. This has a strong implication on the characterization of primary juvenile material and on the interpretation of eruption dynamics.
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Claudia d'Oriano, Massimo Pompilio, A. Bertagnini, R. Cioni, Michel Pichavant. Effects of experimental reheating of natural basaltic ash at different temperatures and redox conditions. Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, Springer Verlag, 2013, 165 (5), pp.863-883. ⟨10.1007/s00410-012-0839-0⟩. ⟨insu-00767819⟩

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