Lithostratigraphy and volcanic evolution of Deception Island, South Shetland Islands

Deception Island is the most active volcano in the Antarctic Peninsula region. It is a large basalt–andesite shield volcano with a 10 km-wide restless caldera (Port Foster) and a complicated history of pre- and post-caldera eruptions. There has been no modern volcanological investigation of the entire island and it remains a largely unknown volcanic hazard. The pre-caldera period on the island began with the low-energy eruption of tephras from multiple centres (Fumarole Bay Formation), possibly by subaqueous fire fountaining during shoaling and likely initial emergence of the volcano. It was followed by subaerial effusive to weakly pyroclastic (Strombolian/Hawaiian) activity that constructed a small basaltic shield (Basaltic Shield Formation), and a large eruption that vented about 30 km3 of magma (Outer Coast Tuff Formation). The latter eruption may have been triggered by an influx of compositionally different magma into the main chamber feeding the volcano, and the evidence suggests that it was associated with a significant involvement with water (seawater?). The eruption was followed by caldera collapse, and there have been several small incremental caldera “collapses” subsequently. Post-caldera eruptions were all small-volume and predominantly phreatomagmatic (Baily Head and Pendulum Cove formations), but magmatic eruptions constructed several small lava deltas around the coast and also produced a local carapace of scoria and thin lavas, particularly around the caldera rim (Stonethrow Ridge Formation). Although the caldera is presently resurging, interpretation of the eruptive history of the island suggests that future eruptions are likely to be small in volume and will have only a limited regional impact.


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Authors: Smellie, J.L.

1 January, 2001
Antarctic Science / 13
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