During the 2011–2012 eruption at Cordón-Caulle, Chile, an extensive rhyolitic flowfield was created (in excess of 0.5 km3 in volume), affording a unique opportunity to characterise rhyolitic lava advance. In 2012 and 2013, we acquired approximately 2500 digital photographs of active flowfronts on the north and east of the flowfield. These images were processed into three-dimensional point clouds using structure-from-motion and multi-view stereo (SfM–MVS) freeware, from which digital elevation models were derived. Sequential elevation models—separated by intervals of three hours, six days, and one year—were used to reconstruct spatial distributions of lava velocity and depth, and estimate rheological parameters. Three-dimensional reconstructions of flowfronts indicate that lateral extension of the rubbly, 'a'ā-like flowfield was accompanied by vertical inflation, which differed both spatially and temporally as a function of the underlying topography and localised supply of lava beneath the cooled upper carapace. Compressive processes also drove the formation of extensive surface ridges across the flowfield. Continued evolution of the flowfield resulted in the development of a compound flowfield morphology fed by iterative emplacement of breakout lobes. The thermal evolution of flow units was modelled using a one-dimensional finite difference method, which indicated prolonged residence of magma above its glass transition across the flowfield. We compare the estimated apparent viscosity (1.21–4.03 × 1010 Pa s) of a breakout lobe, based on its advance rate over a known slope, with plausible lava viscosities from published non-Arrhenian temperature–viscosity models and accounting for crystallinity (~ 50 vol.%). There is an excellent correspondence between viscosity estimates when the lava temperature is taken to be magmatic, despite the breakout being located > 3 km from the vent, and advancing approximately nine months after vent effusion ceased. This indicates the remarkably effective insulation of the lava flow interior, providing scope for significant evolution of rhyolitic flow fields long after effusive activity has ceased.
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 304, 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2015.09.004