UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Field and experimental constraints on the deformation and breakup of injected magma Hodge, Kirsten FitzGerald


Understanding the growth and differentiation of silicic magma chambers is a central issue in volcanology. Specifically, the injection, deformation and breakup of new pulses of magma can influence how the chamber evolves thermally and chemically, as well as the potential for eruption. Magmatic structures (e.g. enclaves, ladder dikes, and schlieren) preserved in plutonic and volcanic rocks record information about the physical processes that occur within the chamber prior to solidification. A key outstanding issue is how to use magmatic structures to extract information about magma rheology and host chamber dynamics within the chamber and during magma ascent--processes that are inherently inaccessible to direct observation. This thesis is an attempt to elucidate the fundamental physics that governs the breakup of an injected magma into a preexisting chamber. One major obstacle for the popular model that mafic inputs trigger big eruptions (Pallister et al., 1992, Murphy et al., 1998) and govern the long-term growth of silicic chambers is the way the new magma is injected. In particular, the scale length at which thermal and compositional heterogeneity is introduced controls how efficiently heat is transferred and the extent to which chamber convection causes mixing. This thesis provides a new understanding of how injections breakup to such small sizes, which can lead to a greater efficiency for mixing and remobilization of an otherwise immobile magma. I use field and experimental studies to investigate specific magmatic features preserved in plutonic and volcanic rocks that can be used to constrain the magma rheology within the chamber at the time of deformation. First, I use experiments and scaling theory to investigate the mechanical and rheological conditions leading to the deformation and breakup of analog crystal-rich dikes. Second, I use field observations of ``ladder dikes'' from the Tuolumne Intrusive Suite, together with experiments and scaling theory to demonstrate that prior to solidification, these features are deformed and broken by shearing motions in the magma chamber. And third, using experimental results along with thermodynamic and modeling constraints on key physical properties of the injected and host magmas, I use size distributions of enclaves preserved in lava flows to characterize the flow regime governing enclave formation.

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