Outgassing of volcanic systems is a ubiquitous phenomenon. Yet the mechanisms facilitating gas escape from vesiculating magmas and lavas remain poorly understood. Pervasive outgassing is thought to depend on the efficient and abundant formation of permeable pathways. Here we present results from experiments designed to identify the conditions and mechanisms needed to form such permeable pathways. We use a foamed silicate melt (FOAMGLAS®) in our experiments as a proxy for natural vesicular melts. FOAMGLAS® cores are compressed under a range of temperatures and strain rates, and results are evaluated against the state of melt relaxation (parameterized using the Deborah number). We find that foam microstructure and rheological and outgassing behaviors evolve with strain and as a function of melt relaxation state. Relaxed melt foams harden during deformation but remain impermeable. As foams become less relaxed at higher strain rate and/or melt viscosity, they show complex responses to deformation (strain weakening and hardening) yet remain impermeable. Strain localization and formation of high-permeability bands occur only in highly strained, unrelaxed foams. However, these bands are thin and oriented perpendicular to the principal stress, resulting in limited outgassing. Permeable pathways do not readily form in foams; rather, high-porosity melts are “persistently impermeable.” Our results imply that vesicular silicic lavas may not outgas as efficiently as previously thought. Instead, sustained impermeability allows the lava to maintain low effective viscosities, and to flow extended distances. In addition, pore pressures may rise in deforming impermeable lavas, perhaps priming the lava for later explosive behavior.
Ryan, A.G., Russell, J.K., Heap, M.J., Kolzenburg, S., Vona, A., Kushnir, A.R.L. (2019). Strain-Dependent Rheology of Silicate Melt Foams: Importance for Outgassing of Silicic Lavas. JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH. SOLID EARTH [10.1029/2019JB018099].