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Journal of Geophysical Research

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Volcanology -- Research, Lava flows, Geologic formations


The Thermal Infrared Multispectral Scanner (TlMS) is a potentially powerful tool for mapping detailed chemical variations in silicic lava flows which in turn could expand knowledge of pre-eruption compositional gradients and mixing processes in silicic magma bodies. However, thermal infrared image data may be greatly influenced by the range of vesicular textures which occur on silicic flows . To investigate the effect of vesicularity on TIMS imagery independent of chemical variations, we studied Little Glass Mountain at the Medicine Lake Volcano of northern California, a large rhyolitic flow of uniform composition but textural heterogeneity. The imagery was recalibrated so that the digital number values for a lake in the scene matched a calculated ideal spectrum for water. TIMS spectra for the lava show useful differences in coarsely and finely vesicular pumice data, particularly in TIMS bands 3 and 4. Images generated by ratioing these bands accurately map out those areas known from field studies to be coarsely vesicular pumice. These texture-related emissivity variations are probably due to the larger vesicles being relatively deeper and separated by smaller septa leaving less smooth glass available to give the characteristic emission of the lava. In studies of inaccessible lava flows (as on Mars) areas of coarsely vesicular pumice must be identified and avoided before chemical variations can be interpreted. Remotely determined distributions of vesicular and glassy textures can also be related to the volatile contents and potential hazards associated with the emplacement of silicic lava flows on Earth.


This is the publisher's final pdf. Originally published in: Journal of Geophysical Research ( and is copyrighted by American Geophysical Union (

*At the time of publication Jonathan Fink was affiliated with Arizona State University

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