Timescales of magma degassing - Insights from U-series disequilibria, Mount Cameroon, West Africa

M. B. Turner*, M. K. Reagan, S. P. Turner, R. S J Sparks, H. K. Handley, G. Girard, C. E. Suh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Short-lived uranium-series isotope data from rocks erupted under explosive and effusive regimes are presented and used to provide constraints on the timescales of magmatic degassing and volatile fluxing during the 1999 and 2000 AD eruption of Mt. Cameroon. In contrast to the relatively homogenous major and trace element data of the analysed rocks, volcanic rocks from Mt. Cameroon reveal a spread of 230Th-226Ra isotope data. Volcanic rocks erupted along the southwest rift in 1999 have (226Ra/230Th) ratios of ~1.25, whereas rocks erupted more axially in 2000 have relatively low (226Ra/230Th) ratios of 1.09-1.2 and concomitant low Ba/Th ratios. These differences imply separate magma chamber systems and probably reflect differences in the concentrations of water within the primary magmas, which led to different amounts of amphibole fractionation at depth. Variations in the (210Pb/226Ra)0 ratios are used to track degassing or volatile accumulation within the magma system. The near equilibrium (210Pb/226Ra) values for effusively erupted rocks from Mt. Cameroon suggest that this magma resided for more than several decades and less than a few thousand years before it erupted. The small excesses of 210Pb over 226Ra in some samples indicate that some of this magma was fluxed by a Rn-bearing gaseous phase for weeks to years before the eruption. In contrast, most explosively erupted rocks from Mt. Cameroon have deficits of 210Pb relative to 226Ra that require years to decades of degassing before eruption. We suggest that the magmas erupted as scoria at Mt. Cameroon degassed as they rose from lithospheric depths. Deep degassing was CO2-dominated, whereas shallower magma degassing involved more water and crystallisation of an anhydrous mineral assemblage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)38-46
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2013


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