Reconstructing the birth, life and death of ancient monogenetic basalt volcanoes using seismic reflection data

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Craig Magee, Christopher A-L Jackson and Esther Hunt-Stewart, Imperial College London, London, United Kingdom
Temporal and spatial changes in monogenetic volcano morphology and internal architecture can determine eruption style and location. However, the relationships between the external and internal characteristics of volcanoes, and sub-volcanic intrusions, are often difficult to observe at outcrop or interpret uniquely from geophysical and geodetic data. This compromises our understanding of the birth, life and death of monogenetic basalt volcanoes. To address this, we use high-quality 2D seismic reflection data from the Ceduna Sub-basin, offshore southern Australia, to quantitatively analyse 46, pristinely-preserved, Eocene-age volcanoes and a genetically-related network of sub-volcanic sills and laccoliths. Detailed seismic mapping has allowed the 3D geometry of each volcano to be reconstructed and distinct seismic facies within them to be recognised. The volcanoes have average flank dips of <10.3°, basal diameters of 1.94–18.89 km, central summits that are 0.02–1 km above the contemporaneous palaeosurface, and volumes that range from 0.06–57.21 km3. Parallel, outward-dipping seismic reflections within the shield volcanoes are interpreted to represent interbedded volcanic and clastic material, suggesting that a series of temporally separate eruptions emanated from a central vent. The shield volcanoes typically overlie the lateral tips of sills and we suggest that the intermittent eruption phases correspond to the incremental emplacement of discrete magma pulses within the laterally extensive sill-complex. This work highlights that deformation patterns preceding volcanic eruptions may: (i) be offset from the eruption site; and (ii) attributed to intrusions with complex morphologies.