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Feeding andesitic eruptions with a high-speed connection from the mantle


Convergent margin volcanism is ultimately fed by magmas generated in the mantle, but the connection between the mantle and the eruption at the surface is typically obscured by cooling, crystallization and magma mixing within the crust1,2,3. Geophysical techniques are also not very effective in the lower and middle crust, where seismic events are rare and resolution is generally poor4,5. It has thus been unclear how fast mantle-derived magmas transit the crust and recharge crustal magma chambers. Here we use diffusion modelling of nickel zonation profiles in primitive olivines from diverse primary melts6,7,8,9,10 to show how mantle recharge may occur on timescales as short as eruptions themselves. In Irazú volcano in Costa Rica, magmas apparently ascend from their source region in the mantle through crust about 35 kilometres thick in just months to years, recharging hybrid basaltic andesites over the course of the eruption. These results show that large stratovolcanoes with shallow magma chambers11,12 may still preserve the deep record of their mantle origin in olivine crystals. This approach—documenting magma ascent timescales from the mantle beneath a convergent margin stratovolcano—can be applied to other eruptions that record magma mixing with recharge melts. Signs of volcanic unrest are typically monitored at the surface or upper crust; new efforts should look deeper, tracking magma movement from the base of the crust to the surface in the months to years before eruptions.

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Figure 1: Compositional diversity in olivine phenocrysts.
Figure 2: Nickel and forsterite zoning in olivine from Irazú volcano.
Figure 3: Representative zonation profiles for three magnesian olivine phenocrysts.
Figure 4: Mantle melt mixing-to-eruption timescales for all analysed olivines.


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We thank G. Alvarado for help during tephra sampling and S. Straub for discussions on olivine partitioning. The work was funded by a Feodor-Lynen Fellowship from the Alexander-von-Humboldt foundation to P.R. and NSF grant EAR 0948533 to T.P. This is Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory contribution 7695.

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Authors and Affiliations



P.R. designed the study and led the sampling, analytical, diffusion and thermal modelling efforts. P.R. and T.P. equally contributed to the discussions and interpretation of the data and both participated equally in the writing stages.

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Correspondence to Philipp Ruprecht.

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The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

This file contains Supplementary Text, Supplementary Figures 1-8 and additional references. (PDF 4495 kb)

Supplementary Table 1

This table shows the data for Ni diffusion mixing-to-eruption timescales for Irazú olivines. (XLSX 42 kb)

Supplementary Table 2

This table contains data for melt inclusion compositions. (XLSX 53 kb)

Supplementary Table 3

This table contains LA-ICPMS data for reversely zoned crystals. (XLSX 393 kb)

Supplementary Table 4

This table contains data for Monte-carlo variations. (XLSX 39 kb)

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Ruprecht, P., Plank, T. Feeding andesitic eruptions with a high-speed connection from the mantle. Nature 500, 68–72 (2013).

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