"Breaking news" on the formation of volcanic ash: Fracture dynamics in silicate glass

Tobias Dürig*, Bernd Zimanowski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In explosive volcanic eruptions magmatic melts behave like brittle solids under rapid loading: volcanic ash particles predominantly are generated by brittle fragmentation, induced within pre-stressed magma in volcanic conduits. Here we present straightforward measurements of fracture area velocity, i.e., surface generation rates in analog materials under "volcanic" time- and deformation rates, using a high resolution high-speed camera at up to 2.5 million frames per second. Surface generation rates are directly linked to energy dissipation and can be related to pyroclast formation during explosive volcanism. According to our findings, pre-existing stress fields play a crucial role for the evolution of cracks, control the dynamics of fracture area growths during fragmentation, and thus strongly modify the production of volcanic ash.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Support for Dürig's research was provided by a grant of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Germany . We are grateful to Tim Elliot and the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments which greatly helped to improve the manuscript.

Other keywords

  • Ash generation
  • Brittle fragmentation
  • Experimental volcanology
  • Explosive volcanism
  • Pre-stressed magma
  • Volcanic ash


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