Timescales for pluton growth, magma-chamber formation and super-eruptions

Marit E. van Zalinge, Darren F. Mark, R. Stephen J. Sparks, Marissa M. Tremblay, C. Brenhin Keller, Frances J. Cooper, and Alison Rust.

Nature, 2022: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-022-04921-9

Generation of silicic magmas leads to emplacement of granite plutons, huge explosive volcanic eruptions and physical and chemical zoning of continental and arc crust. Whereas timescales for silicic magma generation in the deep and middle crust are prolonged, magma transfer into the upper crust followed by eruption is episodic and can be rapid. Ages of inherited zircons and sanidines from four Miocene ignimbrites in the Central Andes indicate a gap of 4.6 Myr between initiation of pluton emplacement and onset of super-eruptions, with a 1-Myr cyclicity. We show that inherited zircons and sanidine crystals were stored at temperatures <470 °C in these plutons before incorporation in ignimbrite magmas. Our observations can be explained by silicic melt segregation in a middle-crustal hot zone with episodic melt ascent from an unstable layer at the top of the zone with a timescale governed by the rheology of the upper crust. After thermal incubation of growing plutons, large upper-crustal magma chambers can form in a few thousand years or less by dike transport from the hot-zone melt layer. Instability and disruption of earlier plutonic rock occurred in a few decades or less just before or during super-eruptions.

Suggested citation:
van Zalinge, M.E, Mark, D.F., Sparks R.S.J., Tremblay, M.M. Keller, C.B., Cooper, F.J. & Rust, A. (2022). Timescales for pluton growth, magma-chamber formation and super-eruptions. Nature 608, 87-92.