Crystallization in basaltic magmas revealed via in situ 4D synchrotron X-ray microtomography

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • M Polacci
  • F Arzilli
  • G La Spina
  • N Le Gall
  • M E Hartley
  • D Di Genova
  • N T Vo
  • S Nonni
  • R C Atwood
  • E W Llewellin
  • P D Lee
  • M R Burton

Colleges, School and Institutes


Magma crystallisation is a fundamental process driving eruptions and controlling the style of volcanic activity. Crystal nucleation delay, heterogeneous and homogeneous nucleation and crystal growth are all time-dependent processes, however, there is a paucity of real-time experimental data on crystal nucleation and growth kinetics, particularly at the beginning of crystallisation when conditions are far from equilibrium. Here, we reveal the first in situ 3D
time-dependent observations of crystal nucleation and growth kinetics in a natural magma, reproducing the crystallisation occurring in real-time during a lava flow, by combining a bespoke high-temperature environmental cell with fast synchrotron X-ray microtomography. We find that both crystal nucleation and growth occur in pulses, with the first crystallisation wave producing a relatively low volume fraction of crystals and hence negligible influence


Original languageEnglish
Article number8377
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 30 May 2018