Highly explosive basaltic eruptions driven by CO2 exsolution

Chelsea M. Allison, Kurt Roggensack, Amanda B. Clarke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The most explosive basaltic scoria cone eruption yet documented (>20 km high plumes) occurred at Sunset Crater (Arizona) ca. 1085 AD by undetermined eruptive mechanisms. We present melt inclusion analysis, including bubble contents by Raman spectroscopy, yielding high total CO2 (approaching 6000 ppm) and S (~2000 ppm) with moderate H2O (~1.25 wt%). Two groups of melt inclusions are evident, classified by bubble vol%. Modeling of post-entrapment modification indicates that the group with larger bubbles formed as a result of heterogeneous entrapment of melt and exsolved CO2 and provides evidence for an exsolved CO2 phase at magma storage depths of ~15 km. We argue that this exsolved CO2 phase played a critical role in driving this explosive eruption, possibly analogous to H2O exsolution driving silicic caldera-forming eruptions. Because of their distinct gas compositions relative to silicic magmas (high S and CO2), even modest volume explosive basaltic eruptions could impact the atmosphere.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number217
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemistry(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Physics and Astronomy(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Highly explosive basaltic eruptions driven by CO2 exsolution'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this