Columnar jointing is thought to occur primarily in lavas and welded pyroclastic flow deposits. However, the non-welded Cerro Galán Ignimbrite at Paycuqui, Argentina, contains well-developed columnar joints that are instead due to high-temperature vapor-phase alteration of the deposit, where devitrification and vapor-phase crystallization have increased the density and cohesion of the upper half of the section. Thermal remanent magnetization analyses of entrained lithic clasts indicate high emplacement temperatures, above 630°C, but the lack of welding textures indicates temperatures below the glass transition temperature. In order to remain below the glass transition at 630°C, the minimum cooling rate prior to deposition was 3.0 × 10−3–8.5 × 10−2°C/min (depending on the experimental data used for comparison). Alternatively, if the deposit was emplaced above the glass transition temperature, conductive cooling alone was insufficient to prevent welding. Crack patterns (average, 4.5 sides to each polygon) and column diameters (average, 75 cm) are consistent with relatively rapid cooling, where advective heat loss due to vapor fluxing increases cooling over simple conductive heat transfer. The presence of regularly spaced, complex radiating joint patterns is consistent with fumarolic gas rise, where volatiles originated in the valley-confined drainage system below. Joint spacing is a proxy for cooling rates and is controlled by depositional thickness/valley width. We suggest that the formation of joints in high-temperature, non-welded deposits is aided by the presence of underlying external water, where vapor transfer causes crystallization in pore spaces, densifies the deposit, and helps prevent welding.
|Title||Columnar jointing in vapor-phase-altered, non-welded Cerro Galán Ignimbrite, Paycuqui, Argentina|
|Authors||Heather M. Wright, Chiara Lesti, Ray A.F. Cas, Massimiliano Porreca, Jose G. Viramonte, Christopher B. Folkes, Guido Giordano|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Bulletin of Volcanology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
Heather M. Wright
Heather M. Wright