Dynamics of an unusual cone-building trachyte eruption at Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a, Hualālai volcano, Hawai‘i

Thomas Shea*, Tanis Leonhardi, Thomas Giachetti, Amanda Lindoo, Jessica Larsen, John Sinton, Elliott Parsons

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a pyroclastic cone and Pu‘u Anahulu lava flow are two prominent monogenetic eruptive features assumed to result from a single eruption during the trachyte-dominated early post-shield stage of Hualālai volcano (Hawaiʻi). Puʻu Wa‘awa‘a is composed of complex repetitions of crudely cross-stratified units rich in dark dense clasts, which reversely grade into coarser pumice-rich units. Pyroclasts from the cone are extremely diverse texturally, ranging from glassy obsidian to vesicular scoria or pumice, in addition to fully crystalline end-members. The >100-m thick Pu‘u Anahulu flow is, in contrast, entirely holocrystalline. Using field observations coupled with whole rock analyses, this study aimed to test whether the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a tephra and Pu‘u Anahulu lava flows originated from the same eruption, as had been previously assumed. Crystal and vesicle textures are characterized along with the volatile contents of interstitial glasses to determine the origin of textural variability within Pu‘u Waʻawaʻa trachytes (e.g., magma mixing vs. degassing origin). We find that (1) the two eruptions likely originated from distinct vents and magma reservoirs, despite their proximity and similar age, (2) the textural diversity of pyroclasts forming Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a can be fully explained by variable magma degassing and outgassing within the conduit, (3) the Pu‘u Wa‘awa‘a cone was constructed during explosions transitional in style between violent Strombolian and Vulcanian, involving the formation of a large cone and with repeated disruption of conduit plugs, but without production of large pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), and (4) the contrasting eruption styles of Hawaiian trachytes (flow-, cone-, and PDC-forming) are probably related to differences in the outgassing capacity of the magmas prior to reaching the surface and not in intrinsic compositional or temperature properties. These results further highlight that trachytes are “kinetically faster” magmas compared to dacites or rhyolites, likely degassing and crystallizing more rapidly.

Original languageEnglish
Article number26
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by NSF EAR Grant 1250366 to TS and JL. Dave Clague is thanked for the many helpful discussions on Hual?lai trachytes and Pu'u Wa'awa?a. Field work was made possible by HETF, DOFAW. Help in the field by Jacqui Owen was also greatly appreciated. The detailed, constructive comments of Kathy Cashman, Lucia Gurioli, and an anonymous reviewer enhanced the manuscript significantly.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Copyright 2017 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Hawai‘i
  • Pyroclastic cone
  • Textural analysis
  • Trachyte
  • Violent strombolian
  • Vulcanian

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