Trace Element Geochemistry of Basaltic Tephra in Maar Cores; Implications for Centre Correlation, Field Evolution, and Mantle Source Characteristics of the Auckland Volcanic Field, New Zealand

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Jenni L Hopkins1, Graham Leonard2, Christian Timm2, Colin J N Wilson1, Helen Neil3 and Marc-alban Millet4, (1)Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand, (2)GNS Science-Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences Ltd, Lower Hutt, New Zealand, (3)NIWA National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, Wellington, New Zealand, (4)University of Durham, Earth Sciences, Durham, United Kingdom
Establishing volcanic hazard and risk management strategies hinges on a detailed understanding of the type, timing and tephra dispersal of past eruptions. In order to unravel the pyroclastic eruption history of a volcanic field, genetic links between the deposits and eruption source centre need to be established. The Auckland Volcanic Field (AVF; New Zealand) has been active for ca. 200 kyr and comprises ca. 53 individual centres covering an area of ca. 360km2. These centres show a range of sizes and eruptive styles from maar craters and tuff rings, to scoria cones and lava flows consistent with both phreatomagmatic and magmatic eruptions. Superimposition of the metropolitan area of Auckland (ca. 1.4 million inhabitants) on the volcanic field makes it critically important to assess the characteristics of the volcanic activity, on which to base assessment and management of the consequent hazards.

Here we present a geochemical approach for correlating tephra deposits to their source centres. To acquire the most complete stratigraphic record of pyroclastic events, maar crater cores from different locations, covering various depths and thus ages across the field were selected. Magnetic susceptibility and x-ray density scanning of the cores was used to identify the basaltic tephra horizons, which were sampled and in-situ analysis of individual shards undertaken for major and trace elements using EPMA and LA-ICP-MS techniques, respectively. Our results show that tephra shard trace element ratios are comparable and complementary to the AVF whole rock database. The use of specific trace element ratios (e.g. Gd/Yb vs. Zr/Yb) allows us to fingerprint and cross correlate tephra horizons between cores and, when coupled with newly acquired 40Ar-39Ar age dating and eruption size estimates, correlate horizons to their source centres. This integrated style of study can provide valuable information to help volcanic hazard management and forecasting, and mitigation of related risks.