Flow localization in fissure eruptions Academic Article uri icon


  • During a basaltic fissure eruption heat transfer from the hot magma to the surrounding rock causes a dramatic increase in the magmatic viscosity and solidification at the margins. Both viscosity contrast and solidification can amplify initial variations in the now rate and lead to localization of the flow along the strike of the fissure. However, for typical parameters, amplification driven by solidification is slower and significantly weaker than amplification driven by viscosity variations. In fact, for the parameters examined, the amplification due to solidification is so weak that its effect is almost insignificant, whereas viscosity variation provides a strong active mechanism for flow localization. Laboratory experiments illustrate viscous localization and suggest that this mechanism is robust. The dependence of viscosity on temperature can cause a small change in the pressure of the magma chamber to lead to a large jump in the flow rate of magma through the fissure.

publication date

  • March 3, 1999