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Durham University

Department of Earth Sciences

Staff Profile

Publication details

Reynolds, P., Brown, R.J., Thordarson, T. & Llewellin, E. (2016). The architecture and shallow conduits of Laki-type pyroclastic cones: insights into a basaltic fissure eruption. Bulletin of Volcanology 78(5): 36.

Author(s) from Durham


Pyroclastic cones built along basaltic fissures provide important volcanological information, but it is often difficult to examine the early-erupted products due to burial by later products. Furthermore, it is rare to see the link between the feeder dyke and overlying cone fully exposed. In this study, we detail the architecture of a hybrid spatter cone, scoria half-cone and feeder dyke that has been dissected to below the pre-eruption surface by glacial floods. The cones were constructed during the 6–8 ka Rauðuborgir-Kvensöðul fissure eruption in North Iceland during Hawaiian- and Strombolian-style activities. Widening of their feeder dyke in the shallow sub-surface to produce an upward flaring morphology was accommodated by country rock removal and elastic host rock deformation. Ballistic calculations and stratigraphic relationships indicate that the scoria half-cone was constructed early in the eruption from the deposits of a lava fountain ~100 m high. A decline in fountain height and the generation of abundant welded deposits resulted in the formation of a nested spatter cone within the scoria half-cone. The cones are similar in structure and size to the hybrid scoria and spatter cones produced during the 15-km3 1783 Laki eruption and serve as a valuable window into the construction of pyroclastic edifices during basaltic fissure eruptions.