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Cyclic shear zone cataclasis and sintering during lava dome extrusion: Insights from Chaos Crags, Lassen Volcanic Center (USA)

Abstract : The ascent and extrusion of crystal-rich magma is commonly facilitated by deformation partitioned within annular, conduit-parallel shear zones. The physical properties and textures of the shear zone materials, where exposed at surface, provide a record of ascent and eruption dynamics. We describe the shear zone developed in Dome C, part of Chaos Crags in the Lassen Volcanic Center (California, USA). The extruded shear zone comprises volcanic fault gouge and variably densified cataclasites. The competent cataclasites evidence deep-seated gouge production followed by gouge densification within the conduit on the timescale of lava dome ascent. Textural, geochemical and mineralogical data identify solid-state sintering as the densification mechanism. At the temperatures and pressures in the volcanic conduit, solid-state sintering causes rapid porosity and permeability loss within the gouge and concomitant material strengthening. Longer dwell times (i.e., slower ascent) allow for more sintering, producing stronger, denser and less permeable cataclasites. At Chaos Crags, we use the extent of sintering, quantified by residual porosity, to recover minimum in-conduit dwell times necessary to produce the observed cataclasites. Our analysis of the Dome C cataclasites suggests a maximum linear ascent rate of 10 m/day and a minimum ascent time of 100 days. We evaluate the consequences of shear zone lithification by solid-state sintering for the eruption of other crystal-rich, glass-poor magmas. Chaos Crags cataclasites preserve evidence of multiple cycles of fracturing, cataclasis and (re-)sintering suggesting a mechanism for transitions between effusive and explosive phases of dome-building eruptions.
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Amy G. Ryan, Michael J. Heap, James K. Russell, Lori A. Kennedy, Michael Clynne. Cyclic shear zone cataclasis and sintering during lava dome extrusion: Insights from Chaos Crags, Lassen Volcanic Center (USA). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Elsevier, 2020, 401, pp.106935. ⟨10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.106935⟩. ⟨insu-03093680⟩

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