Basaltic fissure eruptions, plume heights, and atmospheric aerosols

Richard B. Stothers, John A. Wolff, Stephen Self, Michael R. Rampino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Convective plumes that rise above Hawaiian‐style fire fountains consist of volcanic gases, aerosols, fine ash, and entrained heated air. Plume theory has been applied to observational estimates of the rate of thermal energy release from large fire fountains. The theoretically predicted heights of maintained plumes agree very well with the heights found from actual observations. Predicted plume heights for both central‐vent (point‐source) and fissure (line‐source) eruptions indicate a stratospheric penetration by plumes that form over vents with very high magma‐production rates. Flood basalt fissure eruptions that produce individual lava flows with volumes > 100 km³ at very high mass eruption rates are capable of injecting large quantities of sulfate aerosols into the lower stratosphere, with potentially drastic short‐term atmospheric consequences, like acid precipitation, darkening of the sky, and climatic cooling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)725-728
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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