The Interplay Between Deformation and Volcanism on Santa Cruz Island, Galápagos: A Multidisciplinary Study Using Structural, Geophysical, and Geochronological Analyses of Faults and Lavas

Thursday, 18 December 2014
Darin M Schwartz1, Karen S Harpp2 and Eric L Mittelstaedt1, (1)University of Idaho Library, Moscow, ID, United States, (2)Colgate Univ, Hamilton, NY, United States
Santa Cruz Island is one of the oldest volcanoes in the Galápagos Archipelago; little is known about its history or its evolutionary relationship to the younger western shield volcanoes. Of particular note, the island’s northern and southern flanks are deformed by a series of major normal faults of unknown origin. Using an array of multidisciplinary tools, including field mapping, GPS, gravity, Ar-Ar and geochronology, and 3He exposure dating, we construct a structural and volcanic history of Santa Cruz. The Ar-Ar ages reveal that since ~1.5 Ma, the island has experienced two phases of volcanism, separated by ~0.4 My. The first occurred from 1620 ± 15 to 1160 ± 35 ka (1σ); the second lasted from 699 ± 45 to 74 ± 19 ka. Volcanism during the second phase was focused along an E-W trending summit vent system, from which all <200 ka lavas were deposited on the southern flank. Structural observations suggest that the island has experienced two major faulting episodes. North flank faults formed after 1160 ± 35 ka, whereas the southern faults were initiated between 416 ± 18 and 27 ± 16 ka. Gravity results indicate two E-W trending, intrusive complexes; one is centered north of the island’s summit and the other is beneath the southern flank. When integrated, our data are consistent with a model wherein the northern faults are associated with regional uplift occurring after 1.1 Ma and before 0.78 Ma (paleomag.; Bow, 1979). This deformation event may be related to the formation of the summit vent system and the initiation of the second phase of volcanism. The second volcanism phase is coincident with the formation of the southern faults. Southward spreading along the island’s southern flank accommodated extension initiated by intrusions, which ceased with volcanism at ~20 ka. The extended volcanic activity characteristic of Santa Cruz and of other older Galapagos Islands may be the result of rejuvenated volcanism linked to regional uplift event(s); it may also contribute to development of the morphological differences between eastern and western volcanoes.