Zoning profiles of magnetite phenocrysts in the successively effused dacite of the ongoing Unzen eruption from 1991 wereanalyzed to estimate the time scale of magma mixing. The dacite was formed by mixing of relatively high- and low-temperature (T) end-member magmas. The magnetite phenocrysts derived from the low-T magma are reversely zoned by the mixing with high-T magma. A diffusion calculation for reequilibration of the reverse zonings gives the time interval from magma mixing to quenching. For the mixed dacite erupted from May 1991 to May 1993, the typical diffusion time was estimated to be a few months regardless of the effused sequence for 2 yr. This indicates that the mixing was continuous during the effusion. The invariability of the other mixing signatures, such as the thickness of reaction rims around biotite phenocrysts, also supports the continuous mixing model. Low-T end-member magma is estimated by mass-balance calculation to be a crystal-rich mush of dacitic composition. These observations lead to a model wherein the highly crystallized remnant magma of the preceding activity has been mixed with the newly injected hot magma of similar bulk composition just prior to the effusion. The proposed mechanism implies that this type of magma mixing is an inevitable process in periodically erupting polygenetic volcanoes.
- Geological Society of America