Fossil and active fumaroles in the 1912 eruptive deposits, Valley of ten thousand smokes, Alaska

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research


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Fumaroles in the ash-flow sheet emplaced during the 1912 eruption of Novarupta were intensely active throughout the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS) when first studied in 1917. Fumarole temperatures recorded in 1919 were as hot as 645??C. Influx of surface waters into the hot ash-flow sheet provided the fluid flow to sustain the fumaroles but also enhanced cooling so that by the mid-1930's vigorous activity survived only in the vent region. Configuration and distribution of high-temperature fissure fumaroles tens of meters long, that are prevalent in the middle and upper VTTS, were controlled largely by sintering and degree of welding, which in turn controlled fracturing and permeability of the ash-flow tuff. One fracture type developed parallel to the enclosing valley walls during compaction of the ash-flow sheet. Another type extends across the VTTS nearly perpendicular to the flow direction. A third type of randomly oriented fractures developed as cooling contraction cracks during vapor-phase devitrification. In distal parts of the ash-flow sheet where the tuff is nonwelded, prominent fumaroles have irregular funnel-shaped morphologies. Fumarole distribution in the nonwelded part of the ash-flow sheet is concentrated above pre-emplacement river channels. The hottest, longest-lived fumaroles occurred in the upper VTTS near the 1912 vent where the ash-flow sheet is thicker, more indurated, and on average more mafic (richer in dacite and andesite) in contrast to the thinner, nonwelded rhyolitic tuff in the distal part of the sheet. Fumarolic activity was less intense in the distal part of the tuff because of lower emplacement temperatures, more diffuse fumarole conduits in the nonwelded tuff, and the thinness of the ash-flow sheet. Chemical leaching of ash-flow tuff by hot rising fluids took place adjacent to fumarolic conduits in deep parts of the fumaroles. Deposition of incrustation minerals, the components of which were carried upward by fumarolic gases, took place in the upper part of the ejecta, mostly in the fallout layers. The permeability difference between the ash-flow tuff and the overlying coarse dacite fallout was a critical factor in promoting the abrupt gradients in temperature, pressure, and fO2 that resulted in deposition of minerals from the fumarolic gases. The permeability difference between nonwelded ash-flow tuff and overlying fine-grained fall layers in the lower VTTS is less pronounced. The total mass of fumarolically deposited minerals appears large at first glance owing to the conspicuous coloration by Fe minerals; the mass is appreciably less than is apparent, however, because most incrustations are composed largely of ejecta coated or cemented by fine-grained fumarolic minerals. A large mass of unstable incrustation minerals, mainly chlorides and sulfates, reported during the 1917-1919 studies have since been removed by dissolution and weathering. In the vent region, argillic alteration that followed high-temperature degassing is localized along arcuate subsidence fractures in fallback ejecta. At widely scattered residual orifices, fumarolic gases presently are near-neutral steam, and temperatures are as hot as 90??C. ?? 1991.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Fossil and active fumaroles in the 1912 eruptive deposits, Valley of ten thousand smokes, Alaska
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Volume 45
Issue 3-4
Year Published 1991
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
First page 227
Last page 254
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