Linking lava morphologies to effusion rates for the 2014–2015 Holuhraun lava flow field, Iceland

Joana R.C. Voigt, Christopher W. Hamilton, Gregor Steinbrügge, Ármann Höskuldsson, Ingibjörg Jónsdottir, Thorvaldur Thordarson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Determining the parameters that control fissure-fed lava morphologies is critical for reconstructing the complex emplacement histories of eruptions on Earth and other planetary bodies. We used a geomorphological map of the 2014–2015 Holuhraun lava flow field, in combination with new constraints on lava emplacement chronology and two independently derived time-averaged discharge rate (TADR) data sets, to analyze correlations between lava morphology and effusion rate. Results show that lava morphologies are dominantly controlled by effusion rate at the vent during the early phases of the eruption and by lava transport processes as the system evolves. Initially, TADR and its variance, which reflect pulsation in the lava supply rate from the vent, directly affect lava emplacement styles. However, as the eruption progresses, the lava transport system exerts a stronger control with channels and ponds that can either dampen variation in local effusion rate or create surges during sudden drainage events. The Holuhraun eruption predominantly produced rubbly lava in its earlier eruption phases and transitioned into the production of spiny lava toward the end of the eruption. However, a drop of TADR during the first phase of the eruption correlates with a decrease in rubbly lava formation and an increase in spiny lava production. This suggests that a change in effusion rate caused the observed transition in lava type. Our findings show that rubbly lava is formed under relatively high local effusion rates with pulsating supply conditions, whereas spiny lava is formed under lower local effusion rates and steadier supply.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)71-75
Number of pages5
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geology


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