Conference Presentations

Abstracts from 2014 Geological Society of America and American Geophysical Union annual meeting describing work at Laguna del Maule.

Bradley S Singer

The Laguna del Maule Volcanic Field, Chile, includes an unusually large and recent concentration of silicic eruptions. Since 2007 the crust here has been inflating at an astonishing rate of 25 cm/yr. Findings thus far lead to the hypothesis that the silicic vents have tapped an extensive layer of crystal-poor, rhyolitic melt that began to form atop a magmatic mush zone that was established by ~20 ka with a renewed phase of rhyolite eruptions during the Holocene. Modeling of surface deformation, magnetotelluric data, and gravity changes suggest that magma is currently intruding at a depth of ~5 km. Swarms of volcano-tectonic and long period earthquakes, mostly of M < 2, have occurred beneath the most recent rhyolite coulees on the southwestern and southern margins of the 20 km diameter ring of silicic vents.

With support from the US NSF and the Chilean government (SERNAGEOMIN and OVDAS) we are seizing the unique opportunity to investigate, over the next 5 years, the dynamics of this large rhyolitic system while magma migration, reservoir growth, and crustal deformation are actively underway. This collaboration involves scientists and students at: University of Wisconsin-Madison, Georgia Tech, Cornell, University of Alberta, Simon Fraser University, University of Chile-Santiago, CONICET/University of San Juan-Argentina, Nanyang Technological University-Singapore, SERNAGEOMIN, OVDAS, USGS, and SEGEMAR-Argentina. Team members will be introduced in this presentation.

Our approach includes augmenting the OVDAS array of 6 permanent seisic stations with 40 additional instruments to conduct tomographic, receiver function and ambient noise studies. We continue to collect 4-D gravity data from 37 stations. Surface deformation is monitored via cGPS at 5 permanent receivers and InSAR data. A magnetotelluric survey across the Andes at 36o S is planned. Geochemical studies include mineral zoning and U-Th disequilibrium of zircons to constrain the timing of magma intrusion and mixing events prior to the current unrest. The overall aim is to integrate these observations and to construct numerical models of system dynamics. We are developing communications protocols and a web site to facilitate sharing of findings among the team members and with the public.

Widespread Gravity Changes and CO2 Degassing at Laguna Del Maule, Chile, Accompanying Rapid Uplift
Craig Andrew Miller, Glyn Williams-Jones, Helene Le Mevel, and Basil Tikoff

Laguna Del Maule (LdM), located on the Andes range crest in central Chile, is one of the most active rhyolite volcanic fields on Earth with 36 post glacial rhyolitic eruptions. Since 2007, LdM has accumulated over 1.8 m of uplift at rates of up to 300 mm per year. We hypothesize that this rapid uplift results from the injection of basaltic magma into the base of a rhyolite chamber. To test this hypothesis we undertook a dynamic gravity study, complimented with CO2 soil gas measurements. We established a 35 station dynamic gravity and differential GPS network around the lake in April 2013 and undertook initial CO2 measurements. We resurveyed the network in January 2014 and expanded the soil gas coverage. From these surveys we calculated 0.134 ± 0.030 mGal residual gravity change (Δg) accompanied by 281 ± 13 mm of uplift over the 10 month period. Statistical tests show that the results of the 2013 and 2014 surveys are different at p < 0.01. The Δg anomaly occupies an area of 5 km x 10 km, oriented E/W, and centred in the south eastern part of the lake, and is coincident with the area of maximum uplift. Gaussian integration of Δg yields an excess mass of ~1.2 x 1011 kg. Assuming a density of 2700 kg/m3 this results in a volume of around 0.044 km3. In the 10 month time interval between surveys the calculated volume change rate was 41 ± 1 m3/s. We examine gravity / height change (Δg/Δh) relationships to determine if changes observed relate solely to increased mass or if density changes are involved.

In addition to the Δg and Δh measurements, CO2 soil concentrations of up to 7 % are recorded around the entire lake basin. We will discuss modeling of the Δh and Δg data to explore the geometry and physical parameters of the mass and pressure source and discuss the relationship of CO2 anomalies to these models.

Helene Le Mevel, Kurt L Feigl, Loreto Cordova, Charles DeMets, and Paul Lundgren

The current rate of uplift at Laguna del Maule (LdM) volcanic field in Chile is among the highest ever observed geodetically for a volcano that is not actively erupting. Using data from interferometric synthetic aperture radar (InSAR) and the Global Positioning System (GPS) recorded at five continuously operating stations, we measure the deformation field with dense sampling in time (1/day) and space (1/hectare). These data track the temporal evolution of the current unrest episode from its inception (sometime between 2004 and 2007) to vertical velocities faster than 200 mm/yr that continue through (at least) July 2014. Building on our previous work, we evaluate the temporal evolution by analyzing data from InSAR (ALOS, TerraSAR-X, TanDEM-X) and GPS [ 10.1093/gji/ggt438]. In addition, we consider InSAR data from (ERS, ENVISAT, COSMO-Skymed, and UAVSAR), as well as constraints from magneto-telluric (MT), seismic, and gravity surveys. The goal is to test the hypothesis that a recent magma intrusion is feeding a large, existing magma reservoir. What will happen next? To address this question, we analyze the temporal evolution of deformation at other large silicic systems such as Yellowstone, Long Valley, and Three Sisters, during well-studied episodes of unrest. We consider several parameterizations, including piecewise linear, parabolic, and Gaussian functions of time. By choosing the best-fitting model, we expect to constrain the time scales of such episodes and elucidate the processes driving them.

Nathan L Andersen, Fidel Costa Rodriguez, and Bradley S Singer

Recent investigations of the Laguna del Maule (LdM) volcanic field, central Chile, suggest the presence of a large, shallow, and active rhyolitic magma reservoir. Modest (up to ~1.2 km3) rhyolitic eruptions over the last 20 kyr encircle an area inflating at an average rate of 25 cm/yr since 2007. 40Ar/39Ar, 14C, and tephra stratigraphy indicate that the majority of rhyolitic volcanism was concentrated in two phases (phase 1 and 2) separated by 9 kyr of repose. Here we report new petrological and geochemical results in order to determine if LdM rhyolites were issued from the same reservoir, identify the nature and timescales of processes leading to their eruption, and begin to relate the spectacular signs of unrest to magmatic processes.

All LdM rhyolites are crystal-poor and contain phenocrysts of plagioclase, biotite and rare quartz. Major and trace element contents indicate most plagioclase crystallized in equilibrium with the erupted rhyolitic magma. Incompatible trace element contents (e.g. Ce) delineate distinct crystal populations erupted during phases 1 and 2. Thus, the two magma reservoirs experienced limited physical interaction. A subset of crystal domains from both eruptive phases record melts inconsistent with the whole rock and glass, crystallization-dominated differentiation trend. Plagioclase erupted in the Early Espejos Tephra (phase 1), the largest recent explosive eruption, display the highest An and Mg contents and depletion of Ba and Sr. In contrast, early phase 2 plagioclase contain zones of Ba enrichment. This Mg and Ba enrichment records contrasting responses to the intrusion of mafic magma. The high Mg zones are consistent with an intermediate magma resulting from rhyolite and basalt mixing whereas the Ba enrichment results from melting of Ba-rich phases such as biotite and K-feldspar.

Modeling of Mg, Sr, and Ba diffusion indicates that mixing between these Mg and Ba rich melts and the erupted magma body occurred within a year of eruption. The duration of unrest at LdM has already exceeded the diffusion timescales and thus likely reflects more protracted processes of magma migration and volatile exsolution, potentially associated with the arrival of new magma to the system. However, it probably does not reflect the final stages of mixing prior to eruption recorded by plagioclase crystals.

Vesicularity variation to pyroclasts from silicic eruptions at Laguna del Maule volcanic complex, Chile
Heather Michelle Nicholson Wright, Judy Fierstein, Alvaro Amigo, and Jonathan Miranda

Crystal-poor rhyodacitic to rhyolitic volcanic eruptions at Laguna del Maule volcanic complex, Chile have produced an astonishing range of textural variation to pyroclasts. Here, we focus on eruptive deposits from two Quaternary eruptions from vents on the northwestern side of the Laguna del Maule basin: the rhyolite of Loma de Los Espejos and the rhyodacite of Laguna Sin Puerto.

Clasts in the pyroclastic fall and pyroclastic flow deposits from the rhyolite of Loma de Los Espejos range from dense, non-vesicular (obsidian) to highly vesicular, frothy (coarsely vesicular reticulite); where vesicularity varies from <1% to >90%. Bulk compositions range from 75.6-76.7 wt.% SiO2. The highest vesicularity clasts are found in early fall deposits and widely dispersed pyroclastic flow deposits; the frothy carapace to lava flows is similarly highly vesicular. Pyroclastic deposits also contain tube pumice, and macroscopically folded, finely vesicular, breadcrusted, and heterogeneously vesiculated textures. We speculate that preservation of the highest vesicularities requires relatively low decompression rates or open system degassing such that relaxation times were sufficient to allow extensive vesiculation. Such an inference is in apparent contradiction to documentation of Plinian dispersal to the eruption.

Clasts in the pyroclastic fall deposit of the rhyodacite (68-72 wt.% SiO2) of Laguna Sin Puerto are finely vesicular, with vesicularity modes at ~50% and ~68% corresponding to gray and white pumice colors, respectively. Some clasts are banded in color (and vesicularity). All clasts were fragmented into highly angular particles, with subplanar to slightly concave exterior surfaces (average Wadell Roundness of clast margins between 0.32 and 0.39), indicating brittle fragmentation. In contrast to Loma de Los Espejos, high bubble number densities to Laguna Sin Puerto rhyodacite imply high decompression rates.