UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Thermomechanical milling of lithics in volcanic conduits Campbell, Michelle


Pyroclastic deposits resulting from explosive volcanic eruptions commonly contain clasts originating from the conduit wall rocks, which were entrained into the rapidly ascending stream of erupting material. These particles are termed accessory lithic clasts. Previous studies of the relative abundances and compositions of accessory lithic clasts have been used to identify the subsurface wall rocks of the volcanic conduit, to document variations in eruptive intensity, or to track changes in conduit or vent geometry over the course of the eruption. However, the morphological properties of accessory lithic clasts are largely ignored and offer an unused means of studying the processes operating in the conduit during explosive eruptions. During a volcanic eruption, wall rocks are violently fragmented to produce clasts that are incorporated into a hot, high velocity, particle-laden gas jet. There the clasts are subjected to elevated temperatures, blasting by volcanic ash, and occasional collisions with other large particles or with the conduit walls. The resultant morphologies of the accessory lithic clasts will be influenced by 1) the intrinsic physical properties of the clasts in question; 2) the specific physical and thermal processes to which the clasts were subjected within the conduit; and 3) the residence times of the clasts within the conduit. The 2360 B.P. Pebble Creek Formation of the Mount Meager Volcanic Complex in SW British Columbia is the product of the most recent explosive eruption in Canada. This formation includes a widespread pumice fallout deposit containing anomalously rounded and smoothed monzogranite accessory lithic clasts. In this study, I seek to explain the unusual shapes and surface textures of these clasts through detailed field work, analysis of sample morphology, and the computation of likely conditions within the conduit. My aim is to produce a comprehensive, mechanistic model of how these lithic clasts were reshaped within the volcanic conduit.

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