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Assessing Eruption Column Height in Ancient Flood Basalt EruptionsA buoyant plume model is used to explore the ability of flood basalt eruptions to inject climate-relevant gases into the stratosphere. An example from the 1986 Izu-Oshima basaltic fissure eruption validates the model's ability to reproduce the observed maximum plume heights of 12-16 km above sea level, sustained above fire-fountains. The model predicts maximum plume heights of 13-17 km for source widths of between 4-16 m when 32% (by mass) of the erupted magma is fragmented and involved in the buoyant plume (effective volatile content of 6 wt%). Assuming that the Miocene-age Roza eruption (part of the Columbia River Basalt Group) sustained fire-fountains of similar height to Izu-Oshima (1.6 km above the vent), we show that the Roza eruption could have sustained buoyant ash and gas plumes that extended into the stratosphere at approximately 45 deg N. Assuming 5 km long active fissure segments and 9000 Mt of SO2 released during explosive phases over a 10-15 year duration, the approximately 180 km of known Roza fissure length could have supported approximately 36 explosive events/phases, each with a duration of 3-4 days. Each 5 km fissure segment could have emitted 62 Mt of SO2 per day into the stratosphere while actively fountaining, the equivalent of about three 1991 Mount Pinatubo eruptions per day. Each fissure segment could have had one to several vents, which subsequently produced lava without significant fountaining for a longer period within the decades-long eruption. Sensitivity of plume rise height to ancient atmospheric conditions is explored. Although eruptions in the Deccan Traps (approximately 66 Ma) may have generated buoyant plumes that rose to altitudes in excess of 18 km, they may not have reached the stratosphere because the tropopause was substantially higher in the late Cretaceous. Our results indicate that some flood basalt eruptions, such as Roza, were capable of repeatedly injecting large masses of SO2 into the stratosphere. Thus sustained flood basalt eruptions could have influenced climate on time scales of decades to centuries but the location (i.e., latitude) of the province and relevant paleoclimate is important and must be considered.
Document ID
Document Type
Reprint (Version printed in journal)
Glaze, Lori S. (NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Self, Stephen (Open Univ. Milton Keynes, United Kingdom)
Schmidt, Anja (Leeds Univ. United Kingdom)
Hunter, Stephen J. (Leeds Univ. United Kingdom)
Date Acquired
June 9, 2016
Publication Date
August 6, 2015
Publication Information
ISSN: 0012-821X
Subject Category
Report/Patent Number
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 811073.
Distribution Limits
Flood basalt