Growth and mass wasting of volcanic centers in the northern South Sandwich arc, South Atlantic, revealed by new multibeam mapping
New multibeam (swath) bathymetric sonar data acquired using an EM120 system on the RRS James Clark Ross, supplemented by sub-bottom profiling, reveals the underwater morphology of a not, vert, similar 12,000 km2 area in the northern part of the mainly submarine South Sandwich volcanic arc. The new data extend between 55° 45′S and 57° 20′S and include Protector Shoal and the areas around Zavodovski, Visokoi and the Candlemas islands groups. Each of these areas is a discrete volcanic center. The entirely submarine Protector Shoal area, close to the northern limit of the arc, forms a 55 km long east–west-trending seamount chain that is at least partly of silicic composition. The seamounts are comparable to small subaerial stratovolcanoes in size, with volumes up to 83 km3, indicating that they are the product of multiple eruptions over extended periods. Zavodovski, Visokoi and the Candlemas island group are the summits of three 3–3.5 km high volcanic edifices. The bathymetric data show evidence for relationships between constructional volcanic features, including migrating volcanic centers, structurally controlled constructional ridges, satellite lava flows and domes, and mass wasting of the edifices. Mass wasting takes place mainly by strong erosion at sea level, and dispersal of this material along chutes, probably as turbidity currents and other mass flows that deposit in extensive sediment wave fields. Large scale mass wasting structures include movement of unconsolidated debris in slides, slumps and debris avalanches. Volcanism is migrating westward relative to the underlying plate and major volcanoes are asymmetrical, being steep with abundant recent volcanism on their western flanks, and gently sloping with extinct, eroded volcanic sequences to their east. This is consistent with the calculated rate of subduction erosion of the fore-arc.
Authors: Leat, Philip T., Tate, Alex J., Tappin, David R., Day, Simon J., Owen, Matthew J.