Growth patterns and emplacement of the andesitic lava dome at Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat

R. B. Watts, R. A. Herd, R. S. J. Sparks, S. R. Young

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Eruption of the Soufrière Hills Volcano on Montserrat allowed the detailed documentation of a Pélean dome-forming eruption. Dome growth between November 1995 and March 1998 produced over 0.3 km3 of crystal-rich andesitic lava. Discharge rates gradually accelerated from <1 m3 s−1 during the first few months to >5 m3 s−1 in the later stages. Early dome growth (November 1995 to September 1996) was dominated by the diffuse extrusion of large spines and mounds of blocky lava. A major dome collapse (17 September 1996) culminated in a magmatic explosive eruption, which unroofed the main conduit. Subsequent dome growth was dominated by the extrusion of broad lobes, here termed shear lobes. These lobes developed through a combination of exogenous and endogenous growth over many weeks, with movement accommodated along curved shear faults within the dome interior. Growth cycles were recognized, with each cycle initiated by the slow emplacement of a large shear lobe, constructing a steep flank on one sector of the dome. A growth spurt, heralded by the onset of intense hybrid seismicity, pushed the lobe rapidly out, triggering dome collapse. Extrusion of another lobe within the resulting collapse scar reconstructed the steep dome flanks prior to the next cycle.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano, Montserrat, from 1995 to 1999
EditorsT. H. Druitt, B. P. Kokelaar
PublisherGeological Society London, Memoir No 21
Number of pages38
ISBN (Electronic)9781862393967
ISBN (Print)9781862390980
Publication statusPublished - 2002

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