Small volume andesite magmas and melt-mush interactions at Ruapehu, New Zealand: evidence from melt inclusions

Geoffrey N Kilgour, Jon D Blundy, Katharine V Cashman, Heidy M Mader

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

53 Citations (Scopus)


Historical eruptions from Mt. Ruapehu (New Zealand) have been small (<0.001 km(3) of juvenile magma) and have often occurred without significant warning. Developing better modelling tools requires an improved understanding of the magma storage and transport system beneath the volcano. Towards that end, we have analysed the volatile content and major element chemistry of groundmass glass and phenocryst-hosted melt inclusions in erupted samples from 1945 to 1996. We find that during this time period, magma has been stored at depths of 2-9 km, consistent with inferences from geophysical data. Our data also show that Ruapehu magmas are relatively H2O-poor (<2 wt%) and CO2-rich (a parts per thousand currency sign1,000 ppm) compared to typical arc andesites. Surprisingly, we find that melt inclusions are often more evolved than their transporting melt (as inferred from groundmass glass compositions). Furthermore, even eruptions that are separated by less than 2 years exhibit distinct major element chemistry, which suggests that each eruption involved magma with a unique ascent history. From these data, we infer that individual melt batches rise through, and interact with, crystal mush zones formed by antecedent magmas. From this perspective, we envision the magmatic system at Ruapehu as frequently recharged by small magma inputs that, in turn, cool and crystallise to varying degrees. Melts that are able to erupt through this network of crystal mush entrain (to a greater or lesser extent) exotic crystals. In the extreme case (such as the 1996 eruption), the resulting scoria contain melt inclusion-bearing crystals that are exotic to the transporting magma. Finally, we suggest that complex interactions between recharge and antecedent magmas are probably common, but that the small volumes and short time scales of recharge at Ruapehu provide a unique window into these processes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-392
Number of pages22
JournalContributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
Issue number2
Early online date15 May 2013
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • Andesite
  • Volatile
  • Melt inclusions
  • Ruapehu
  • Crystal mush
  • Antecryst
  • H2O
  • CO2
  • Magma mixing


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