Crystal plasticity as an indicator of the viscous-brittle transition in magmas

J. E. Kendrick*, Y. Lavallée, E. Mariani, D. B. Dingwell, J. Wheeler, N. R. Varley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding the flow of multi-phase (melt, crystals and bubbles) magmas is of great importance for interpreting eruption dynamics. Here we report the first observation of crystal plasticity, identified using electron backscatter diffraction, in plagioclase in andesite dome lavas from Volcán de Colima, Mexico. The same lavas, deformed experimentally at volcanic conduit temperature and load conditions, exhibit a further, systematic plastic response in the crystalline fraction, observable as a lattice misorientation. At higher stress, and higher crystal fraction, the amount of strain accommodated by crystal plasticity is larger. Crystal plastic distortion is highest in the intact segments of broken crystals, which have exceeded their plastic limit. We infer that crystal plasticity precludes failure and can punctuate the viscous-brittle transition in crystal-bearing magmas at certain shallow magmatic conditions. Since crystal plasticity varies systematically with imposed conditions, this raises the possibility that it may be used as a strain marker in well-constrained systems.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1926
JournalNature Communications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Dec 2017


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