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Eruption and deposition of the Fisher Tuff (Alaska)--Evidence for the evolution of pyroclastic flows

January 5, 2016

Recognition that the Fisher Tuff (Unimak Island, Alaska) was deposited on the leeside of an ∼500–700‐m‐high mountain range (Tugamak Range) more than 10 km away from its source played a major role in defining pyroclastic flows as momentum‐driven currents. We reexamined the Fisher Tuff to evaluate whether deposition from expanded turbulent clouds can better explain its depositional features. We studied the tuff at 89 sites and sieved bulk samples from 27 of those sites. We find that the tuff consists of a complex sequence of deposits that record the evolution of the eruption from a buoyant plume (22 km) that deposited ∼0.2 km3 of dacite magma as a pyroclastic fall layer to erupting ∼10–100 km3 of andesitic magma as Scoria‐rich pyroclastic falls and flows that were mainly deposited to the north and northwest of the caldera, including those in valleys within the Tugamak Range. The distribution of the flow deposits and their welding, internal stratification, and the occurrence of lithic breccia all suggest that the pyroclastic flows were fed from a fountaining column that vented from an inclined conduit, the first time such a conduit has been recognized during a large‐volume caldera eruption. Pyroclastic flow deposits before and after the mountain range and thin veneer deposits high in the range are best explained by a flow that was stratified into a dense undercurrent and an overriding dilute turbulent cloud, from which deposition before the range was mainly from the undercurrent. When the flow ran into the mountain range, however, the undercurrent was blocked, but the turbulent cloud continued on. As the flow continued north, it restratified, forming another undercurrent. The Fisher Tuff thus records the passing of a flow that was significantly higher (800–1100 m thick) than the mountain range and thus did not require excessive momentum.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2007
Title Eruption and deposition of the Fisher Tuff (Alaska)--Evidence for the evolution of pyroclastic flows
DOI 10.1086/518050
Authors Alain Burgisser, J.E. Gardner, P. Stelling
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geology
Index ID 70170391
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program