Submarine pyroclastic deposits formed at the Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat (1995–2003): What happens when pyroclastic flows enter the ocean?

The Soufrière Hills volcano, Montserrat, West Indies, has undergone a series of dome growth and collapse events since the eruption began in 1995. Over 90% of the pyroclastic material produced has been deposited into the ocean. Sampling of these submarine deposits reveals that the pyroclastic flows mix rapidly and violently with the water as they enter the sea. The coarse components (pebbles to boulders) are deposited proximally from dense basal slurries to form steep-sided, near-linear ridges that intercalate to form a submarine fan. The finer ash-grade components are mixed into the overlying water column to form turbidity currents that flow over distances >30 km from the source. The total volume of pyroclastic material off the east coast of Montserrat exceeds 280 × 106 m3, with 65% deposited in proximal lobes and 35% deposited as distal turbidites.


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Authors: Trofimovs, J., Amy, L., Boudon, G., Deplus, C., Doyle, E., Fournier, N., Hart, M.B., Komorowski, J.C., Le Friant, A., Lock, E.J., Pudsey, C., Ryan, G., Sparks, R.S.J., Talling, P.J.

1 July, 2006
Geology / 34
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