The deposits of mafic hydromagmatic eruptions are more fine grained and variable in vesicularity than dry magmatic deposits. Blocky, equant shapes of many hydromagmatic clasts also contrast with droplet, thread, and bubble wall morphology of dry magmatic fragments. Small (?? 180 ??m), blocky hydromagmatic pyroclasts have traditionally been interpreted to result from discrete vapor explosions, although such explosions tend to occur only under certain conditions. This paper considers a process of hydromagmatic ash formation that involves repeated growth and disintegration of glassy rinds on pyroclast surfaces as they deform within turbulent flows. This process, termed "turbulent shedding", may occur during the expansion phase of vapor explosions or during turbulent but nonexplosive mixing of magma with water, steam, or water sprays. The occurrence of turbulent shedding and the resulting fragment sizes depend on the timescale for rind growth and the timescale between disturbances that remove or disintegrate glassy rinds. Turbulent shedding is directly observable in some small littoral jets at Kilauea. Calculations suggest that, in the presence of liquid water or water sprays, glassy rinds having a thickness of microns to millimeters should form in milliseconds to seconds. This is similar to the timescale between turbulent velocity fluctuations that can shred lava globules and remove such rinds. The fraction of a deposit consisting of fine ash should increase with the duration of this process: Large-scale Surtseyan jets generate hundreds or thousands of shedding events; bubble bursts or tephra jets at Kilauea's coast may produce only a few.
Additional publication details
Generation of fine hydromagmatic ash by growth and disintegration of glassy rinds