Cinder cones are common volcanic structures that occur in fields, and on the flanks of shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes, and calderas. Because they are common structures, they have a significant possibility of impacting humans and human environments. As such, there is a need to analyze cinder cones to get a better understanding of their eruptions and associated hazards. I will approach this analysis by focusing on volcanic bombs and ballistics, which are large clots of lava that are launched from the volcanic vent, follow ballistic trajectories, and can travel meters to a few kilometers from their source (e.g. Fagents and Wilson 1993; Waitt et al. 1995).
Tecolote Volcano in the Pinacate Volcanic Field in Mexico contains multiple vents within a horseshoe-shaped crater that have all produced various ejecta (Zawacki et al. 2019). The objectives of this research are to map ballistic distribution to understand the relationship between the source vent or vents and the bombs and ballistics that litter the region around Tecolote, and interpret the eruption conditions that ejected those bombs by using their distributions, morphologies, and fine-scale textures.
The findings of this work are that these bombs are apparently from the last stages of the eruption, succeeding the final lava flows. The interiors and exteriors of the bombs display different cooling rates which can are indicated by the fabric found within. Using this, certain characteristics of the bombs during eruption were extrapolated. The ‘cow pie’ bombs were determined to be the least viscous or contained a higher gas content at the time of eruption. Whereas the ribbon/rope bombs were determined to be the most viscous or contained a lesser gas content. Looking at the Southern Bomb Field site, it is dominated by large bombs that were during flight were molded into aerodynamic shapes. The Eastern Rim site is dominated by smaller bombs that appeared to be more liquid during the eruption. This difference in the two sites is a probable indication of at least two different eruptive events of different degrees of explosivity. Overall, aerodynamic bombs are more common and extend to greater distances from the presumed vent (up to 800 m), while very fluidal bombs are uncommon beyond 500 meters. Fluidal bombs (‘cow pie’, ‘ribbon’, ‘rope/spindle’) show a clear trend in decreasing size with distance from vent, whereas the size-distance trend is less dramatic for the aerodynamic bombs.