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Understanding the storage conditions and fluctuating eruption style of a young monogenetic volcano: Blue Lake crater (<3 ka), High Cascades, Oregon

November 4, 2020

Blue Lake crater (<3 ka) is monogenetic volcano that produced one of the youngest eruptions in the central Oregon Cascades. Understanding monogenetic volcano behavior – from storage through eruption – is imperative in planning for future eruptions. Here we combine physical volcanology and geochemistry to determine the pre-eruptive storage conditions, ascent rate, eruption style, and deposit distribution of this young eruption. We find that the eruption of Blue Lake was initially phreatomagmatic, producing lithic-rich fall deposits and thin surge deposits and excavating the maar crater, before transitioning rapidly to a final voluminous magmatic-volatile driven explosive eruption. The mapped fall deposit has an estimated volume of 3.9 × 107 m3 (2.2 × 107 m3 DRE) which suggests a VEI of 3. Although similar in magnitude (as measured by fall deposit volume) to many other recent cinder cone eruptions in the Cascades, the Blue Lake crater eruption lacks an effusive phase. The absence of lava flows may reflect the lack of evidence for syn-eruptive magma storage at shallow levels. Indeed, corrected volatile contents of olivine-hosted melt inclusions (2.9–4.2 wt% H2O, 910–1330 ppm CO2) are strikingly uniform and indicate storage and crystallization at a restricted pressure range (average ~ 235 MPa), equating to a depth of ~8.6 km. Melt inclusion geochemistry indicates that the basaltic andesite magma cooled and crystallized ~25% during storage at this pressure. Crystals in the Blue Lake magma show evidence of mixing with, or entrainment in, a more evolved magma. Feldspar crystals have large An-rich cores (An80–85) and abrupt An-poor rims (An60–70); olivine crystals have large, broad cores (~Fo82–84) and thin rims with lower Fo and NiO contents. Diffusion modeling of olivine zoning suggests that an intrusion event occurred ~10–60 days prior to eruption. Diffusive loss of H+ from melt inclusions was minimal (<1.3 wt% H2O) during magma ascent, from which we calculate minimum ascent times from 235 MPa of <1 day. Many inclusions indicate ascent times of <3 h, corresponding to ascent rates of ~1 to >13 m/s. This study illustrates the pre-eruptive and eruptive complexities of monogenetic volcanoes and highlights the minimal warning that may precede future eruptions.