Late Miocene valley-confined subglacial volcanism in northern Alexander Island, Antarctic Peninsula

Isolated, Late Miocene volcanogenic sequences in northern Alexander Island, Antarctic Peninsula, form an unusual, cogenetic association of volcaniclastic, sandy-gravelly lithofacies (including tillites) and volcanic (lava/hyalocalstite) lithofacies. Using simple lithofacies analysis and theoretical considerations of hydrodynamic effects of subglacial eruptions, valley-confined volcanic activity beneth thin, wet-based ice is suggested. The Alexander Island successions are complete enough to be regarded as model sequences for this uncommonly recorded type of eruptive/depositional activity. The sedimentary lithofacies represent resedimented tuffs and meltout or flow tills, which were probably deposited in subglacial ice tunnels eroded or enlarged by volcanically heated meltwater. The volcanic lithofacies formed by the interaction of hot magma with the ice tunnel walls (generating abundant meltwater) and water-saturatedsediments, resulting in the formation of heterogeneous masses of lava and hyaloclastite. There is no obvious sequence organisation in the sedimentary sections. This is probably due to a complex interplay of eruption-related and environmental hydrodynamic factors affecting the relative proportions of water and entrained sediment.


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Authors: Smellie, John L., Hole, M.J., Nell, P.A.R.

1 January, 1993
Bulletin of Volcanology / 55
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