CrystalMom: a new model for the evolution of crystal size distributions in magmas with the quadrature-based method of moments

Colucci S., M. de’ Michieli Vitturi, P. Landi (2017).
Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology, 172/11-12, doi: 10.1007/s00410-017-1421-6.


Nucleation and growth of crystals, and the resulting crystal size distribution, play a fundamental role in controlling the physical properties of magmas and consequently the dynamics of the eruptions. In the past decades, laboratory experiments demonstrated that size and shape of crystals strongly control the physical properties of magma and lava. Additionally, natural and experimental samples are usually characterized in terms of their crystal size distribution to link it with physical processes that are not directly observable, such as cooling or decompression mechanisms. In this paper, we present CrystalMoM, a new predictive model, based on the quadrature-based method of moments, developed for studying the kinetic of crystallization in volcanic systems. The quadrature-based method of moments, well established in the field of chemical engineering, represents a mesoscale modelling approach that rigorously simulates the space–time evolution of a distribution of particles, by considering its moments. The method is applied here, for the first time, for studying the equilibrium/disequilibrium crystallization in magma, modelling the temporal evolution of the moments of a crystal size distribution. The model, verified against numerical and experimental data, represents a valuable tool to infer the cooling and decompression rates from the crystal size distribution observed in natural samples.

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