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Some Lava Flows May Not Have Been as Thick as They Appear

Katona, Jonas and Fu, Xiaojing and Mittal, Tushar and Manga, Michael and Self, Stephen (2021) Some Lava Flows May Not Have Been as Thick as They Appear. Geophysical Research Letters, 48 (24). Art. No. e2021GL095202. ISSN 0094-8276. doi:10.1029/2021GL095202.

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Individual lava flows in flood basalt provinces are composed of sheet pāhoehoe lobes and the 10–100 m thick lobes are thought to form by inflation. Quantifying the emplacement history of these lobes can help infer the magnitude and temporal dynamics of prehistoric eruptions. Here we use a phase-field model to describe solidification and remelting of sequentially emplaced lava lobes to explore additional processes that may lead to thick flows and lobes. We calibrate parameters using field measurements at Makaopuhi lava lake. We vary the lobe thicknesses and the time interval between eruptions to study the interplay between these factors and their impact on the thermal evolution of flows. Our analysis shows that if the time between emplacements is sufficiently short, remelting may merge sequentially emplaced lobes—making lava flows appear thicker than they actually were—which suggests that fused lobes could be another mechanism that creates apparently thick lava flows.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper ItemAll relevant simulation data, movies, figures, and codes
Katona, Jonas0000-0002-2127-8912
Fu, Xiaojing0000-0001-7120-704X
Mittal, Tushar0000-0002-8026-0018
Manga, Michael0000-0003-3286-4682
Self, Stephen0000-0002-8081-3532
Additional Information:© 2021 American Geophysical Union. Issue Online: 26 December 2021; Version of Record online: 26 December 2021; Accepted manuscript online: 09 December 2021; Manuscript accepted: 06 December 2021; Manuscript revised: 28 November 2021; Manuscript received: 13 July 2021. X. Fu acknowledges the support of the Miller Fellowship. S. Self would like to acknowledge the support of D. Basu, K. Das, and the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses for carrying out an earlier version of this study. M. Manga, S. Self, and T. Mittal were supported by NSF 1615203. T. Mittal acknowledges funding support from the Crosby Postdoc Fellowship at MIT. Data Availability Statement: All relevant simulation data, movies, figures, and codes can be found at In particular, all data files are contained in, all codes can be found in the folder finalcodes, all relevant figures from this paper can be found in the folder finalfigures, and all movies (plus some extra movies) can be found in the folder movies.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Miller Institute for Basic Research in ScienceUNSPECIFIED
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)UNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:24
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210524-113358406
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Official Citation:Katona, J., Fu, X., Mittal, T., Manga, M., & Self, S. (2021). Some lava flows may not have been as thick as they appear. Geophysical Research Letters, 48, e2021GL095202.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:109237
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:24 May 2021 20:58
Last Modified:03 Jan 2022 23:42

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