Three-dimensional magma flow dynamics within subvolcanic sheet intrusions

Craig Magee, Brian O'Driscoll, Michael S. Petronis, Carl Stevenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Sheet intrusions represent important magma conduits and reservoirs in subvolcanic systems. Constraining the emplacement mechanisms of such intrusions is crucial to understanding the physiochemical evolution of magma, volcano deformation patterns, and the location of future eruption sites. However, magma plumbing systems of active volcanoes cannot be directly accessed and we therefore rely on the analysis of ancient systems to inform the interpretation of indirect geophysical and geochemical volcano monitoring techniques. Numerous studies have demonstrated that anisotropy of magnetic susceptibility (AMS) is a powerful tool for constraining magma flow patterns within such ancient solidified sheet intrusions. We conducted a high-resolution AMS study of seven inclined sheets exposed along the Ardnamurchan peninsula in northwest Scotland, and examined how magma flow in sheet intrusions may vary along and perpendicular to the magma flow axis. The sheets form part of the Ardnamurchan Central Complex, which represents the deeply eroded roots of an ∼58-m.y.-old volcano. Our results suggest that the inclined sheets were emplaced via either updip magma flow or along-strike lateral magma transport. It is important that observed variations in magnetic fabric orientation, particularly magnetic foliations, within individual intrusions suggest that some sheets were internally compartmentalized, i.e., different along-strike portions of the inclined sheets exhibit subtle differences in their magma flow dynamics. This may have implications for the flow regime and magma mixing within intrusions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)842-866
Issue number3
Early online date1 Apr 2016
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 1 Apr 2016


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