The climactic phase of the Shinmoe-dake 2011 eruption was characterized by sub-Plinian events (January 26 p.m., 27 a.m., and 27 p.m.) and lava accumulation in the crater (late on January 27 to January 29), all of which were accompanied by Vulcanian events. The magma discharge rate for lava accumulation was close to that of the sub-Plinian events. We discuss evolution of syneruptive magma ascent through the climactic phase on the basis of decompression-induced crystallization of groundmass microlites, in order to reveal how the final eruption style was determined at the explosive–effusive transition. We examined pumice and lava-like pyroclasts from three sub-Plinian events, the January 28 Vulcanian event, and a lava block ballistically ejected during the February 1 Vulcanian event. The samples exhibit variable groundmass textures due to variable syneruptive ascent conditions, not due to pre-eruptive inhomogeneity of the andesitic magma and different degrees of syneruptive volatile exsolution preceding quenching. Eruptive units were first characterized according to bulk density, assuming that slower ascent resulted in higher density. A decrease in the magma ascent rate led to a gradual shift to an effusive eruption style. There was little variation in ascent rate among magmas erupted simultaneously during the first and second sub-Plinian events (bulk density 0.8–2.1 g/cm3), but differences increased in the third sub-Plinian and January 28 Vulcanian eruptions with minor appearance of slow magma (0.9–2.8 g/cm3). Only slow magma occupied the shallow conduit at the completion of lava accumulation (February 1 lava; 2.1 g/cm3). Among the first and second sub-Plinian units, the early stage of the second sub-Plinian event had the greatest variation in ascent rate, with extension to a slightly higher bulk density (1.0–2.1 g/cm3) than the other events (0.8–1.7 g/cm3). Ascent-rate variations in the early stage of the second sub-Plinian event, the third sub-Plinian event, and the January 28 Vulcanian event are all due to the preceding calm phase in the intermittent explosive activity. The moving magma column, which showed a vertical zonation in the degree of degassing, formed in the shallow conduit during the calm phase due to a decrease in the discharge rate, and this resulted in the co-ejection of magmas with variable degassing upon the start of explosive events. The crystal size distribution (CSD) of plagioclase microlites constrains the syneruptive branching (i.e., a point of divergence) in ascent rate and eruption style, which occurred after the start of microlite crystallization. The CSDs of the different samples show differences only in small crystal sizes; slope at these size fractions is smallest for low-density (<2.0 g/cm3) pyroclasts from all eruptive phases, medium for high-density pyroclasts and lava (>2.0 g/cm3) of the January 28 and February 1 events, and greatest for high-density pyroclasts (>2.0 g/cm3) of the third sub-Plinian event. We propose, based on the similarity in CSD, that the shallow magma-feeding system was common for the two craters active during the January 28 explosive–effusive hybrid activity, where the Vulcanian event and emplacement of lava of the later February 1 event occurred in different parts of the original crater. The samples have variable plagioclase microlite number densities (1.4 × 105–3.5 × 106 mm−3), based on variations in small crystal sizes among different CSDs. This variability resulted not only from the usual increasing trend in number density with increasing degree of undercooling, but also the decreasing trend associated with the strong undercooling during explosive eruptions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas