Dynamics of diffusive bubble growth and pressure recovery in a bubbly rhyolitic melt embedded in an elastic solid

By: , and 



We present a model of gas exsolution and bubble expansion in a melt supersaturated in response to a sudden pressure drop. In our model, the melt contains a suspension of gas bubbles of identical sizes and is encased in a penny-shaped crack embedded in an elastic solid. The suspension is modeled as a three-dimensional lattice of spherical cells with slight overlap, where each elementary cell consists of a gas bubble surrounded by a shell of volatile-rich melt. The melt is then subjected to a step drop in pressure, which induces gas exsolution and bubble expansion, resulting in the compression of the melt and volumetric expansion of the crack. The dynamics of diffusion-driven bubble growth and volumetric crack expansion span 9 decades in time. The model demonstrates that the speed of the crack response depends strongly on volatile diffusivity in the melt and bubble number density and is markedly sensitive to the ratio of crack thickness to crack radius and initial bubble radius but is relatively insensitive to melt viscosity. The net drop in gas concentration in the melt after pressure recovery represents only a small fraction of the initial concentration prior to the drop, suggesting the melt may undergo numerous pressure transients before becoming significantly depleted of gases. The magnitude of pressure and volume recovery in the crack depends sensitively on the size of the input-pressure transient, becoming relatively larger for smaller-size transients in a melt containing bubbles with initial radii less than 10-5 m. Amplification of the input transient may be large enough to disrupt the crack wall and induce brittle failure in the rock matrix surrounding the crack. Our results provide additional basis for the interpretation of volume changes in the magma conduit under Popocatépetl Volcano during Vulcanian degassing bursts in its eruptive activity in April–May 2000.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Dynamics of diffusive bubble growth and pressure recovery in a bubbly rhyolitic melt embedded in an elastic solid
Series title Geosciences
DOI 10.1029/2005JB004174
Volume 111
Issue B7
Year Published 2006
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program, Volcano Science Center
Description B07310, 20 p.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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