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The plinian eruptions of 1912 at Novarupta, Katmai National Park, Alaska

Fierstein, Judy; Hildreth, Wes

The three-day eruption at Novarupta in 1912 consisted of three discrete episodes. Episode I began with plinian dispersal of rhyolitic fallout (Layer A) and contemporaneous emplacement of rhyolitic ignimbrites and associated proximal veneers. The plinian column was sustained throughout most of the interval of ash flow generation, in spite of progressive increases in the proportions of dacitic and andesitic ejecta at the expense of rhyolite. Accordingly, plinian Layer B, which fell in unbroken continuity with purely rhyolitic Layer A, is zoned from >99% to ∼15% rhyolite and accumulated synchronously with emplacement of the correspondingly zoned ash flow sequence in Mageik Creek and the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes (VTTS). Only the andesiterichest flow units that cap the flow sequence lack a widespread fallout equivalent, indicating that ignimbrite emplacement barely outlasted the plinian phase. On near-vent ridges, the passing ash flows left proximal ignimbrite veneers that share the compositional zonation of their valley-filling equivalents but exhibit evidence for turbulent deposition and recurrent scour. Episode II began after a break of a few hours and was dominated by plinian dispersal of dacitic Layers C and D, punctuated by minor proximal intraplinian flows and surges. After another break, dacitic Layers F and G resulted from a third plinian episode (III); intercalated with these proximally are thin intraplinian ignimbrites and several andesite-rich fall/flow layers. Both CD and FG were ejected from an inner vent
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