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Measurement and implication of "effective" viscosity for rhyolite flow emplacement


Hazardous explosive activity may sporadically accompany the extrusion of silicic lava domes. Modelling of the emplacement of silicic domes is therefore an important task for volcanic hazard assessment. Such modelling has been hampered by a lack of a sufficiently accurate rheological database for silicic lavas with crystals and vesicles. In the present study, the parallel-plate viscometry method was applied to determine the shear viscosity of five natural rhyolitic samples from a vertical section through the Ben Lomond lava dome, Taupo Volcanic Centre, New Zealand. Rheological measurements were performed at volcanologically relevant temperatures (780–950°C) and strain rates (10–5–10–7 s–1). Although these samples are in the metastable state, viscosity determinations, melt composition, as well as water and crystal contents of samples were demonstrably stable during experiments. For samples containing up to 5 vol.% microlites, the composition of the melt, rather than the physical effect of suspended crystals, had greater influence on the effective viscosity of the silicic magma. Samples with 10 vol.% microlites and containing a flow banding defined by microlites show no significant orientational effects on apparent viscosity. The rheological measurements were used together with a simple cooling model to construct thermal and viscosity profiles revealing conditions during the emplacement of the Ben Lomond lava dome.

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Stevenson †, R.J., Dingwell, D.B., Bagdassarov, N.S. et al. Measurement and implication of "effective" viscosity for rhyolite flow emplacement. Bull Volcanol 63, 227–237 (2001). https://doi.org/10.1007/s004450100137

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  • Rhyolite Lava flow Viscosity Pumice Arrhenius dependence Cooling model Vesiculation