Maar-diatremes - a course module

By Greg A Valentine1, Alison Graettinger1

1. University at Buffalo, SUNY (UB)

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Maar-diatremes are one of the most common volcanic landforms on Earth, and represent an end-member type of volcano whose eruptions are dominated by explosive, subsurface magma-water interaction.  Thus they should form an important component of volcanology courses.  The recent decade has seen significant research on maar-diatremes, through a combination of field studies, experiments, and numerical modeling.  This module presents some of that work and can either be used as a self-contained resource or as material to supplement a worker's own presentation of maar-diatreme research.

The module is targeted at upper level undergraduate and graduate level volcanology courses.  It may also be useful for researchers who are interested in a review of some of the recent work on maar-diatremes, or as material for discussion-based seminars.  In the module we begin with the field context, by describing the general characteristics of the volcanoes, then work through some experimental studies that have explored the mechanisms for these characteristics.  In the end we integrate the above in a general conceptual model of how maar-diatremes work.  The presentation focuses on the effects of subsurface phreatomagmatic explosions on crater formation, and on eruption and subsurface processes and deposits, rather than on the mechanisms of the explosions themselves.

In addition to presenting information about maar-diatremes, the module provides an example of a path of research that begins in the field, goes into experimental physics, and then returns to the field.  A practical exercise encourages students to use the presented concepts to explore new questions.

The module consists of two 50-minute lectures, a bibliography, and a practical, which could be done as homework or as a lab or classroom exercise.  All of these can be found under the "Supporting Docs" tab on this page.  A brief description and intended learning outcomes is also included under that tab.  The bibliography is a key component of the module; it is not intended to be a fully exhaustive list of the maar-diatreme literature, but highlights the more recent work that has been key in developing the module.  High quality versions of the experiment videos used in the lectures can be accessed through the referenced papers at the publishing journals' web sites.

The module is freely available to anyone, however, any use of its contents in research and publications should refer to the original papers, all of which are listed in the bibliography.  Most are cited on the appropriate slides; some of the field examples are from the Hopi Buttes area (Navajo Nation, Arizona, USA) and users are referred to LeFebvre et al. (2013) and White (1991) as original resources for those.

Development of this module, along with most of the experimental work described in the lectures, was supported by a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (Project EAR-1420455).

Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Greg A Valentine; Alison Graettinger (2016), "Maar-diatremes - a course module,"

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