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Coupled caldera subsidence and stirring inferred from analogue models


Caldera-forming eruptions can be explosive and lead to the eruption of phenomenal volumes of magma that can devastate the global environment1. Such eruptions involve ground subsidence related to catastrophic sinking of a magma chamber roof, accompanied by buoyant flow of magma through a ring conduit around the sinking roof 2. Previous work points to a feedback between subsidence and eruption: eruption initiates subsidence of the chamber roof, which in turn drives the ongoing eruption3. Although subsidence-driven eruption dominates caldera evolution4, the coupled dynamics of subsidence and magma flow are poorly understood. Here, we use analogue models to show that, under most conditions, caldera subsidence is spatially and temporally variable, leading to complicated and vigorous magma stirring and mixing. On the basis of the experimental results and a scaling analysis, we construct a regime diagram that helps demonstrate how the coupled flow and subsidence are influenced by the fluid dynamics and geometry of the system. The vigorous stirring we infer can considerably modify the style of subsidence and can explain textural, petrological and geochemical variation in deposits that have been related to caldera-forming eruptions.

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Figure 1: Details of experimental apparatus and scaling.
Figure 2: Experimental results for low (4.8×102), intermediate (1.9×103) and high (1.3×105) Re.
Figure 3: Photograph from the side of a two-block high-Re experiment.
Figure 4: Regime diagrams.


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We thank R. Breger, T. Barton, A. Peterson, G. Robert and S. Wiingaard for their assistance with experiments. Support was provided to B.M.K. from the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, McGill University, from GEOTOP, Université du Québec à Montréal and from the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. A.M.J. acknowledges support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research and the Marsden Fund. J.S. acknowledges support from the Natural Sciences and Research Council of Canada and from le Fonds Quebecoise de la Research sur la Nature et les Technologies.

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B.M.K., A.M.J. and J.S. all contributed to carrying out experiments and analysing data, as well as writing, planning and editing this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Ben M. Kennedy.

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Kennedy, B., Mark Jellinek, A. & Stix, J. Coupled caldera subsidence and stirring inferred from analogue models. Nature Geosci 1, 385–389 (2008).

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