Salt shell fallout during the ash eruption at the Nakadake crater, Aso volcano, Japan: evidence of an undergrounds hydrothermal system surrounding the erupting vent

  • Shinohara, Hiroshi
    Geological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Geshi, Nobuo
    Geological Survey of Japan, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology
  • Yokoo, Akihiko
    Aso Volcanological Laboratory, Kyoto University
  • Ohkura, Takahiro
    Aso Volcanological Laboratory, Kyoto University
  • Terada, Akihiko
    Volcanic Fluid Research Center, Tokyo Institute of Technology /

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  • Salt shell fallout during the ash eruption at the Nakadake crater, Aso volcano, Japan: evidence of an underground hydrothermal system surrounding the erupting vent

Abstract

A hot and acid crater lake is located in the Nakadake crater, Aso volcano, Japan. The volume of water in the lake decreases with increasing activity, drying out prior to the magmatic eruptions. Salt-rich materials of various shapes were observed, falling from the volcanic plume during the active periods. In May 2011, salt flakes fell from the gas plume emitted from an intense fumarole when the acid crater lake was almost dry. The chemical composition of these salt flakes was similar to those of the salts formed by the drying of the crater lake waters, suggesting that they originated from the crater lake water. The salt flakes are likely formed by the drying up of the crater lake water droplets sprayed into the plume by the fumarolic gas jet. In late 2014, the crater lake dried completely, followed by the magmatic eruptions with continuous ash eruptions and intermittent Strombolian explosions. Spherical hollow salt shells were observed on several occasions during and shortly after the weak ash eruptions. The chemical composition of the salt shells was similar to the salts formed by the drying of the crater lake water. The hollow structure of the shells suggests that they were formed by the heating of hydrothermal solution droplets suspended by a mixed stream of gas and ash in the plume. The salt shells suggest the existence of a hydrothermal system beneath the crater floor, even during the course of magmatic eruptions. Instability of the magmatic–hydrothermal interface can cause phreatomagmatic explosions, which often occur at the end of the eruptive phase of this volcano.

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