We have developed a model of diffusive and decompressive growth of a bubble in a finite region of melt which accounts for the energetics of volatile degassing and melt deformation as well as the interactions between magmatic system parameters such as viscosity, volatile concentration, and diffusivity. On the basis of our formulation we constructed a numerical model of bubble growth in volcanic systems. We conducted a parametric study in which a saturated magma is instantaneously decompressed to one bar and the sensitivity of the system to variations in various parameters is examined. Variations of each of seven parameters over practical ranges of magmatic conditions can change bubble growth rates by 2–4 orders of magnitude. Our numerical formulation allows determination of the relative importance of each parameter controlling bubble growth for a given or evolving set of magmatic conditions. An analysis of the modeling results reveals that the commonly invoked parabolic law for bubble growth dynamics R∼t1/2 is not applicable to magma degassing at low pressures or high water oversaturation but that a logarithmic relationship R∼log(t) is more appropriate during active bubble growth under certain conditions. A second aspect of our study involved a constant decompression bubble growth model in which an initially saturated magma was subjected to a constant rate of decompression. Model results for degassing of initially water‐saturated rhyolitic magma with a constant decompression rate show that oversaturation at the vent depends on the initial depth of magma ascent. On the basis of decompression history, explosive eruptions of silicic magmas are expected for magmas rising from chambers deeper than 2 km for ascent rates >1–5 m s−1.


Earth Systems Research Center

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Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth


American Geophysical Union (AGU)

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©1998. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.


This is an article published by AGU in Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth in 1998, available online: