Evidence for shallowing and uplift from bathymetric records of Deception Island, Antarctica

Deception Island is a large volcanic centre in Bransfield Strait, a very young marginal basin between the South Shetland Islands and Antarctic Peninsula. It has a historical record of volcanic activity, with the most recent eruption occurring in 1970. The island is a stratovolcano with a large flooded caldera forming a natural harbour known as Port Foster. It has been a focus of human activity since early last century, as a base for whaling and sealing expeditions and the locus of several scientific stations. During that period, many bathymetric surveys were carried out, the earliest in 1829 and the most recent in 1993. This study concentrates on surveys from 1948 onwards. Because Port Foster can be classified as a restless caldera, the bathymetric records were analysed for evidence of volcano-tectonic deformation, particularly caldera resurgence (uplift) which could have significant consequences for hazard and risk assessments of the volcano. The results show that a distinctive pattern of shallowing and uplift is present, correlating well with known and inferred volcanic and volcanotectonic processes on the island. In particular, bathymetric records between 1949 and 1993 show uplift rates as high as 0.3–0.5 m a−1, far exceeding normal sedimentation rates in a caldera this size. Rapid uplift in an arcuate offshore area not affected by the sedimentation of recent eruptions suggests that volcano tectonic resurgence or tectono-magmatic effects of an upward migrating magma chamber present a significant risk to the considerable human activity taking place in the region.


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Authors: Cooper, A. P. R., Smellie, J. L., Maylin, J.

1 January, 1998
Antarctic Science / 10
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