Repository logo

Magma mingling during the 1959 eruption of Kīlauea Iki, Hawaiʻi

Published version

Repository DOI

Change log


Marsh, Jennifer 
Houghton, Bruce 
Buisman, Iris 
Herd, Richard 


jats:titleAbstract</jats:title>jats:pMagma mingling and mixing are common processes at basaltic volcanoes and play a fundamental role in magma petrogenesis and eruption dynamics. Mingling occurs most commonly when hot primitive magma is introduced into cooler magma. Here, we investigate a scenario whereby cool, partially degassed lava is drained back into a conduit, where it mingles with hotter, less degassed magma. The 1959 eruption of Kīlauea Iki, Hawaiʻi involved 16 high fountaining episodes. During each episode, fountains fed a lava lake in a pit crater, which then partially drained back into the conduit during and after each episode. We infer highly crystalline tachylite inclusions and streaks in the erupted crystal-poor scoria to be the result of the recycling of this drain-back lava. The crystal phases present are dendrites of plagioclase, augite and magnetite/ilmenite, at sizes of up to 10 µm. Host sideromelane glass contains 7–8 wt% MgO and the tachylite glass (up to 0.5% by area) contains 2.5–6 wt% MgO. The vesicle population in the tachylite is depleted in the smallest size classes (< 0.5 mm) and has overall lower vesicle number densities and a higher degree of vesicle coalescence than the sideromelane component. The tachylite exhibits increasingly complex ‘stretching and folding’ mingling textures through the episodes, with discrete blocky tachylite inclusions in episodes 1 and 3 giving way to complex, folded, thin filaments of tachylite in pyroclasts erupted in episodes 15 and 16. We calculate that a lava lake crust 8–35 cm thick may have formed in the repose times between episodes, and then foundered and been entrained into the conduit during drain-back. The recycled fragments of crust would have been reheated in the conduit, inducing glass devitrification and crystallisation of pyroxene, magnetite and plagioclase dendrites and eventually undergoing ductile flow as the temperature of the fragments approached the host magma temperature. We use simple models of magma mingling to establish that stretching and folding of recycled, ductile lava could involve thinning of the clasts by up to a factor of 10 during the timescale of the eruption, consistent with observations of streaks and filaments of tachylite erupted during episodes 15 and 16, which may have undergone multiple cycles of eruption, drain-back and reheating.</jats:p>


Acknowledgements: Don Swanson and Sarah Fagents were major contributors in the establishment of the stratigraphic framework for the episodes sampled for this study.


Cooling, Vesiculation, Lava lake, Tachylite, Magma mingling, Basalt

Journal Title

Bulletin of Volcanology

Conference Name

Journal ISSN


Volume Title



Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Natural Environment Research Council (NE/X010120/1)