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Crystal size distributions of plagioclase in lavas from the July–August 2001 Mount Etna eruption

Fornaciai A., C. Perinelli, P. Armienti and M. Favalli (2015).
Bulletin of Volcanology, Volume 77, Issue 8, doi: 10.1007/s00445-015-0953-8.


During the 2001 eruption of Mount Etna, two independent vent systems simultaneously erupted two different lavas. The Upper Vents system (UV), opened between 3100 and 2650 m a.s.l., emitted products that are markedly porphyritic and rich in plagioclase, while the Lower Vents system (LV), opened at 2100 and 2550 m a.s.l., emitted products that are sparsely porphyritic with scarce plagioclase. In this study, the crystal size distributions (CSDs) of plagioclase were measured for a series of 14 samples collected from all the main flows of the 2001 eruption. The coefficient of R 2 determination was used to evaluate the goodness of fit of linear models to the CSDs, and the results are represented as a grid of R 2 values by using a numerical code developed ad hoc. R 2 diagrams suggest that the 2001 products can be separated into two main groups with slightly different characteristics: plagioclase CSDs from the UVs can be modeled by three straight lines with different slopes while the plagioclase CSDs from the LVs are largely concave. We have interpreted the CSDs of the UVs as representing three different populations of plagioclases: (i) the large phenocrysts (type I), which started to crystallize at lower cooling rate in a deep reservoir from 13 to 8 months before eruption onset; (ii) the phenocrysts (type II), which crystallized largely during continuous degassing in a shallow reservoir; and (iii) the microlites, which crystallized during magma ascent immediately prior to the eruption. The plagioclase CSD curves for the LVs lava are interpreted to reflect strong and rapid changes in undercooling induced by strong and sudden degassing.