In this paper we report the first experimental investigation of non-explosive hydromagmatic fragmentation during energetic mixing with water. We mix magma and water by two methods: (1) pouring a basaltic melt between two converging water sprays; and (2) jetting basaltic melt at high pressure (3??MPa) through a nozzle into a tank of stagnant water. These experiments involved shear at relative velocities of ~ 5-16??m/s and vigorous mixing for less than a second, providing sufficient time for glassy rinds to grow but insufficient time for clot interiors to cool. In resulting fragments, we examined the gross morphology, which reflects fluid deformation during mixing, and surface textures, which reflect the growth and disruption of glassy rinds. We find major differences in both fragment morphology and surface texture between experiments. Water-spray experiments produced Pele's hair, thin bubble shards, melt droplets, and angular, fracture-bound droplet pieces. Melt-jet experiments produced mostly coarse (> 1??mm diameter), wavy fluidal fragments with broken ends. Fluidal surfaces of fragments produced by water-spray experiments were generally shiny under reflected light and, in microscopic examination, smooth down to micron scale, implying no disruption of glassy rinds, except for (a) rare flaking on Pele's hair that was bent prior to solidification; or (b) cracking and alligator-skin textures on segments of melt balls that had expanded before complete cooling. In contrast, textures of fluidal surfaces on fragments produced by melt-jet experiments are dull in reflected light and, in scanning electron images, exhibit ubiquitous discontinuous skins ("rinds") that are flaked, peeled, or smeared away in stripes. Adhering to these surfaces are flakes, blocks, and blobs of detached material microns to tens of microns in diameter. In the water-spray fragments, we interpret the scarcity of disrupted surface rinds to result from lack of bending after surfaces formed. In the melt-jet fragments, the ubiquity of partially detached rinds and rind debris likely reflects repeated bending, scraping, impact, and other disruption through turbulent velocity fluctuations. When extrapolated to jets of Surtseyan scale, where velocity fluctuations reach tens of meters per second and turbulent mixing persists for tens of seconds, rind disintegration could fragment a large fraction of the erupted material.
Additional publication details
An experimental study of hydromagmatic fragmentation through energetic, non-explosive magma-water mixing