The Bishop Tuff (USA) is a large-volume, high-silica pyroclastic rhyolite. Five pumice clasts from three early stratigraphic units were studied. Size distributions were obtained using three approaches: (1) crushing, sieving and winnowing (reliable for crystals >100 μm); (2) microscopy of ∼1 mm3 fragments (preferable for crystals <100 μm); and (3) computerised X-ray microtomography of ∼1 cm3 pumice pieces.
Phenocryst fragments coated with glass are common, and the size distributions for all crystals are concave-upward, indicating that crystal fragmentation is an important magmatic process.
Three groups are recognised, characterised by: (1) high-density (0·759–0·902 g cm−3), high-crystal content (14·4–15·3 wt.%) and abundant large crystals (>800 μm); concave-downward size distributions for whole crystals indicate late-stage growth with limited nucleation, compatible with the slow cooling of a large, gas-saturated, stably stratified magma body; (2) low-density (0·499 g cm −3), low-crystal content (6·63 wt.%) and few large crystals; the approximately linear size distribution reveals that nucleation was locally important, perhaps close to the walls; and (3) intermediate characteristics in all respects.
The volumetric fraction of bubbles inversely correlates with the number of large crystals. This is incompatible with isobaric closed-system crystallisation, but can be explained by sinking of large crystals and rise of bubbles in the magma