Eruption risks from covert silicic magma bodies

Shane M. Rooyakkers*, John Stix, Kim Berlo, Maurizio Petrelli, Freysteinn Sigmundsson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Unintentional encounters with silicic magma at ~2-2.5 km depth have recently occurred during drilling at three volcanoes: Kilauea (Hawaii), Menengai (Kenya), and Krafla (Iceland). Geophysical surveys had failed to warn about shallow magma before each encounter, and subsequent surveys at Krafla have been unable to resolve the size or architecture of its silicic magma body. This presents a conundrum for volcano monitoring: Do such shallow “covert” magma bodies pose an eruption risk? Here, we show that Krafla’s most recent explosive eruption, a mixed hydrothermal-magmatic event in 1724 C.E. that formed the Ví;ti maar, involved rhyolite essentially indistinguishable in composition from magma encountered during drilling in 2009. Streaks of quenched basalt in some Víti pumices provide direct evidence for interaction between co-erupted rhyolitic and basaltic magmas, but crystals in these pumices show no evidence for late-stage heating or re-equilibration with more mafic melt, implying mixing time scales of at most several hours. Covert silicic magma thus presents an eruption risk at Krafla and may be mobilized with little warning. Difficulties in resolving magma bodies smaller than ~1 km3 with geophysical surveys mean that covert silicic magma may exist at many other volcanoes and should be considered in hazard and risk assessments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-925
Number of pages5
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2021

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© 2021 The Authors. Gold Open Access: This paper is published under the terms of the CC-BY license.


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