Magma fragmentation: a perspective on emerging topics and future directions

Thomas J. Jones*, Katharine V Cashman, Emma J. Liu, Alison C Rust, B Scheu

*Corresponding author for this work

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

9 Citations (Scopus)
69 Downloads (Pure)


The breaking apart of magma into fragments is intimately related to the eruptive style and thus the nature and footprint of volcanic hazards. The size and shape distributions of the fragments, in turn, affect the efficiency of heat transfer within pyroclastic plumes and currents and the settling velocity, and so the residence time, of particles in the atmosphere. Fundamental work relating the glass transition to the fragmentation of magmas remains at the heart of conceptual and numerical models of volcanic eruptions. Current fragmentation criteria, however, do not predict the sizes and shapes of the resulting fragments, or fully account for the multiphase nature of magmas or ways in which magma can break in a fluidal manner or by thermal stress. The pulsatory, non-steady state nature of some eruptions, and related interactions with these fragmentation criteria, also requires further investigation. Here, we briefly review some recent advances in the field of magma fragmentation and provide a perspective on how integrated field, experimental and numerical modelling studies can address key outstanding challenges.
Original languageEnglish
Article number45
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 5 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a Royal Society research grant (RGS\R1\211015) awarded to TJJ, and by an AXA Research Fund professorship (to KVC). BS acknowledges funding by DFG through projects number 628578 and 364653263 – TRR 235.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Pyroclast
  • Tephra
  • Glass transition
  • Thermal granulation
  • Inertial fragmentation
  • Hydrovolcanic


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