Explosive Volcanic Activity at Extreme Depths: Evidence from the Charles Darwin Volcanic Field, Cape Verdes.

Kwasnitschka, Tom, Hansteen, Thor , Devey, Colin , Freundt, Armin and Kutterolf, Steffen (2013) Explosive Volcanic Activity at Extreme Depths: Evidence from the Charles Darwin Volcanic Field, Cape Verdes. [Poster] In: AGU Fall Meeting 2013. , 09.-13.12.2013, San Francisco, USA .

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Volcanic eruptions on the deep sea floor have traditionally been assumed to be non-explosive as the high-pressure environment should greatly inhibit steam-driven explosions. Nevertheless, occasional evidence both from (generally slow-) spreading axes and intraplate seamounts has hinted at explosive activity at large water depths. Here we present evidence from a submarine field of volcanic cones and pit craters called Charles Darwin Volcanic Field located at about 3600 m depth on the lower southwestern slope of the Cape Verdean Island of Santo Antão. We examined two of these submarine volcanic edifices (Tambor and Kolá), each featuring a pit crater of 1 km diameter, using photogrammetric reconstructions derived from ROV-based imaging followed by 3D quantification using a novel remote sensing workflow, aided by sampling. The measured and calculated parameters of physical volcanology derived from the 3D model allow us, for the first time, to make quantitative statements about volcanic processes on the deep seafloor similar to those generated from land-based field observations. Tambor cone, which is 2500 m wide and 250 m high, consists of dense, probably monogenetic medium to coarse-grained volcaniclastic and pyroclastic rocks that are highly fragmented, probably as a result of thermal and viscous granulation upon contact with seawater during several consecutive cycles of activity. Tangential joints in the outcrops indicate subsidence of the crater floor after primary emplacement. Kolá crater, which is 1000 m wide and 160 m deep, appears to have been excavated in the surrounding seafloor and shows stepwise sagging features interpreted as ring fractures on the inner flanks. Lithologically, it is made up of a complicated succession of highly fragmented deposits, including spheroidal juvenile lapilli, likely formed by spray granulation. It resembles a maar-type deposit found on land. The eruption apparently entrained blocks of MORB-type gabbroic country rocks with diameters of up to 20 cm, probably abraded by fluidization within the vent, that were laterally transported for hundreds of meters through water. In spite of the great depth, both edifices feature dense but highly fragmented volcanic deposits with an unexpected combination of large clast sizes and wide clast dispersal. This suggests an energetic eruptive environment, which may have similarities with that seen in pyroclastic eruptions on land.

Document Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Poster)
Keywords: Explosive Volcanism, Cape Verdes, Photogrammetry
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB4 Dynamics of the Ocean Floor > FB4-MUHS Magmatic and Hydrothermal Systems
Date Deposited: 10 Mar 2015 13:53
Last Modified: 10 Mar 2015 13:53
URI: http://oceanrep.geomar.de/id/eprint/27942

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