Diatremes - volcanic pipes attributed to explosion - and craters have been studied to infer the ultimate causes and physical conditions attending natural explosive processes.
Initial piercement of diatremes on the Navajo reservation, Arizona was probably along a fracture propagated by a high-pressure aqueous fluid. Gas rising at high velocity along the fracture would become converted to a gas-solid fluidized system by entrainment of wall- rock fragments. The first stages of widening of the vent are probably accomplished mainly by simple abrasion of the high-velocity fluidized system on the walls of the fracture. As the vent widens, its enlargement may be accelerated by inward spalling of the walls.
The inferred mechanics of the Navajo-Hopi diatremes is used to illustrate the possibility of diatreme formation over a molten salt mass.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Diatremes and craters attributed to natural explosions