3D Micro-tomography on aggregates from the 2014- 2015 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano

M. Colombier, B. Scheu, S. J. Cronin, M. Tost, K. J. Dobson, D. B. Dingwell

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


In December 2014- January 2015, a surtseyan eruption at Hunga Tonga- Hunga Ha'apai volcano (Tonga) formed a new island. Three main eruptive phases were distinguished by observation and deposits: (i) mound and cone construction, involving collapse of 300-600 m-high wet tephra jets, grain flows, slope-remobilisation and energetic surges, with little or no convective plume (ii) The upper cone-building phase with lower jets (mainly <300 m) but greater ash production (weak, steam-rich plumes to 6 km) and weak surges, and (iii) final phase with weak surge, fall and ballistic deposits with more vesicular pyroclasts producing proximal capping deposits. Most sampled deposits contain ash, lapilli and bombs, and lapilli-sized aggregates are ubiquitous. We used high-resolution 3D X-ray microcomputed tomography (XCT) to quantify the grain size distribution (GSD) and porosity by sampling multiple stratigraphic units within the main eruptive sequences. We visualized and quantified the internal structure of the aggregates to understand the evolution of this surtseyan eruption. We present here an overview of the textural information: porosity, vesicle size distribution and morphology as well as the variability of the aggregation features. Aggregates from the fall deposits of the early wet phase are mostly loosely packed, poorly- structured ash clusters. Aggregates from the early surge sequence and the main cone building phase dominantly exhibit a central particle coated by ash cluster material. Vesicles in the particles from the early fall deposits tend to be smaller and more isolated than in the particles from the surge sequence and the main cone building phase. The GSD of aggregates obtained by XCT is highly valuable to correct the total GSD of volcaniclastic deposits. The strong variations in the aggregation features across the eruption suggest a range of different formation and deposition mechanisms related to varying degrees of magma-water- interaction, which changed the morphology and textural properties of the individual particles.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016
EventAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2016 - San Francisco, United States
Duration: 12 Dec 201616 Dec 2016


ConferenceAmerican Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2016
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Francisco


  • Volcanoclastic deposits
  • explosive volcanism
  • magma migration and fragmentation
  • experimental volcanism
  • volcanology


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