Catastrophic growth of totally molten magma chambers in months to years

Catherine Annen, Rais Latypov, Sofya Chistyakova, Alexander R. Cruden, Troels F.D. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The vertical growth rate of basaltic magma chambers remains largely unknown with available estimates being highly uncertain. Here, we propose a novel approach to address this issue using the classical Skaergaard intrusion that started crystallizing from all margins inward only after it had been completely filled with magma. Our numerical simulations indicate that to keep the growing Skaergaard magma chamber completely molten, the vertical growth rate must have been on the order of several hundreds to a few thousands of meters per year, corresponding to volumetric flow rates of tens to hundreds of cubic kilometers per year. These rates are several orders of magnitude higher than current estimates and were likely achieved by rapid subsidence of the floor rocks along faults. We propose that the Skaergaard is a plutonic equivalent of supereruptions or intrusions that grow via catastrophically rapid magma emplacement into the crust, producing totally molten magma chambers in a matter of a few months to dozens of years.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbereabq0394
Number of pages9
JournalScience advances
Issue number38
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022

Programme Area

  • Programme Area 4: Mineral Resources


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