2017-2018 Science Planning Summaries
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2017-2018 USAP Field Season
Project Detail

Project Title

Determining magma storage depths and ascent rates for the Erebus Volcanic Province, Antarctica using diffusive water loss from olivine-hosted melt inclusion

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Event Number:

Program Manager:
Dr. Douglas Kowalewski

ASC POC/Implementer:
Jenny Cunningham / Meghan Walker

Principal Investigator

Dr. Glenn Allan Gaetani

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Department of Geology & Geophysics
Woods Hole, Massachusetts


Supporting Stations: McMurdo Station
Research Locations: Erebus Volcanic Province


The depths at which magmas are stored, their pre-eruptive volatile contents, and the rates at which they ascend to the Earth’s surface are important controls on the dynamics of volcanic eruptions. Melt inclusions (MIs), small parcels of melt entrapped by crystals growing in magma, are found in volcanic tephra and can provide a snapshot of pre-eruptive volatile contents. Researchers will collect tephra samples from various volcanic centers in the Erebus volcanic province and separate out MI-bearing olivine crystals. They will analyze MIs from the sampled tephras for major element and volatile concentrations and use these data to determine pre-eruptive magma storage depths and magma ascent rates.

Field Season Overview

Four participants will deploy between 13 November and 7 December. The group will be based in McMurdo, and will make helicopter day or night trips with close support to field locations in the Erebus volcano province. Sampling sites on Mount Discovery, Mount Morning, Cape Evans, Lewis Bay, Mount Bird, Mount Terror, and Cape Crozier (including those within the Crozier Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA) No. 124) will be accessed by helicopter, and areas along the Hut Point peninsula will be accessed by snowmobile. The group may use snowmobiles to traverse sea ice and access areas along the Hut Point peninsula up to Cape Royds. At sampling sites, the group will use hammers and chisels to collect tephra (rock) samples, which will be packed in bags and rock boxes. Ten to forty pounds of material will be collected from each site. The group will use lab and office space in Crary Laboratory, including the rock saw room. Samples will be sorted and processed in McMurdo, and will be shipped to the home institution for further analyses.

Deploying Team Members

  • Glenn Gaetani (PI)
  • Ayla Pamukcu
  • Kenneth Sims
  • Paul Wallace