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Project: Ice-contact volcanism in the Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Bedded subaqueous deposits along ridge high on Mt. Tongariro; Ngauruhoe in background.
Bedded subaqueous deposits along ridge high on Mt. Tongariro; Ngauruhoe in background.

Recent work by GNS scientists, university colleagues and PhD students will soon be presented in the first detailed geological map of Tongariro National Park, containing Ruapehu and Tongariro volcanoes.

Dating of lavas and surface-dating of moraine deposits shows that many eruptions that built the volcanoes occurred during repeated episodes of glaciation. Their work and related dissertations establishes a framework that will support a focused analysis of subglacial eruptive processes and the effects of eruptions at these two andesitic arc volcanoes that stand high above the surrounding landscapes.

Goals of this project are: (1) Establish eruption and emplacement processes of individual subglacially formed lavas and pyroclastic deposits of Tongariro and Ruapehu volcanoes; (2) Model melting from eruptions; (3) Infer and field-test downstream effects of on-volcano icemelt; (4) Distinguish features of subglacial products that are shared with products of subaqueous eruptions from those unique to subglacial settings.

Several methods will be used. Field study will include sampling, structural measurements, joint-set analysis, and feature mapping. Textural analysis will assess particularly the development of quench crystallites, and glass cooling features. Compositional and volatile analysis of glass and glass inclusions will be used in assessment of initial magma volatile content and of eruption pressures. With collaborators we will computationally model magma cooling, ice melting and water accumulation and release; this will potentially be coupled to magma-icemelt experiments (funding dependent). These will provide source characteristics for separate modelling of the downstream transport of material in floods and lahars, which can be tested against recent mapping and with additional field observations.

Some useful references related to the intended science of the project are listed below.

Andesitic lavas with irregular geometries and complex jointing patterns, Whangaehu Valley, Ruapehu.
Andesitic lavas with irregular geometries and complex jointing patterns, Whangaehu Valley, Ruapehu.

Some relevant papers

Massive core and complex marginal jointing of an andesitic lava flow, Whangaehu Valley, Ruapehu.
Massive core and complex marginal jointing of an andesitic lava flow, Whangaehu Valley, Ruapehu.

  • Bear, A.N. and Cas, R.A.F. (2007) The complex facies architecture and emplacement sequence of a Miocene submarine mega-pillow lava flow system, Muriwai, North Island, New Zealand. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 160, 1-22.
  • Carrivick, J.L. (2011) Jökulhlaups: geological importance, deglacial association and hazard management. Geol. Today, 27, 133-140.
  • Carrivick, J.L., Russell, A.J. and Tweed, F.S. (2004) Geomorphological evidence for jökulhlaups from Kverkfjöll volcano, Iceland. Geomorphology, 63, 81-102.
  • Gudmundsson, M.T. (2003) Melting of ice by magma-ice-water interactions during subglacial eruptions as an indicator of heat transfer in subaqueous eruptions. In: Explosive Subaqueous Volcanism (Eds J.D.L. White, J.L. Smellie and D.A. Clague), American Geophysical Union Monograph, 140, pp. 61-72. American Geophysical Union, Washington D.C.
  • Gudmundsson, M., Sigmundsson, F., Björnsson, H. and Högnadóttir, T. (2004) The 1996 eruption at Gjálp, Vatnajökull ice cap, Iceland: efficiency of heat transfer, ice deformation and subglacial water pressure. Bull. Volcanol., 66, 46-65.
  • Hoskuldsson, A. and Sparks, R.S.J. (1997) Thermodynamics and fluid dynamics of effusive subglacial eruptions. Bull. Volcanol., 59, 219- 230.
  • Lescinsky, D. and Fink, J. (1996) Lava and ice interaction: controls on lava flow morphology and texture. Glaciers, ice sheets and volcanoes—A tribute to Mark F. Meier: US Army Corps of Engineers Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory Special Report, 96-27.
  • Lescinsky, D.T. and Sisson, T.W. (1998) Ridge-forming, ice-bounded lava flows at Mount Rainer, Washington. Geology, Boulder, 26, 351-354.
  • Lescinsky, D.T. and Fink, J.H. (2000) Lava and ice interaction at stratovolcanoes: Use of characteristic features to determine past glacial extents and future volcanic hazards. Journal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 105, 23711-23726.
  • Lodge, R.W.D. and Lescinsky, D.T. (2009a) Fracture patterns at lava–ice contacts on Kokostick Butte, OR, and Mazama Ridge, Mount Rainier, WA: Implications for flow emplacement and cooling histories. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 185, 298-310.
  • Lodge, R.W.D. and Lescinsky, D.T. (2009b) Anisotropic stress accumulation in cooling lava flows and resulting fracture patterns: Insights from starch-water desiccation experiments. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 185, 323-336.

Diagram from Lodge and Lescinsky (2009b); fracture patterns in cornstarch in a tensional stress environment that is independent of isotropic contraction.Diagram from Lodge and Lescinsky (2009b); fracture patterns in cornstarch in a tensional stress environment that is independent of isotropic contraction.

  • Russell, A.J., Tweed, F.S., Roberts, M.J., Harris, T.D., Gudmundsson, M.T., Knudsen, Ó. and Marren, P.M. (2010) An unusual jökulhlaup resulting from subglacial volcanism, Sólheimajökull, Iceland. Quatern. Sci. Rev., 29, 1363-1381.
  • Schopka, H.H., Gudmundsson, M.T. and Tuffen, H. (2006) The formation of Helgafell, southwest Iceland, a monogenetic subglacial hyaloclastite ridge: Sedimentology, hydrology and volcano-ice interaction. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 152, 359-377.
  • Schmid, A., Sonder, I., Seegelken, R., Zimanowski, B., Büttner, R., Gudmundsson, M.T. and Oddsson, B. (2010) Experiments on the heat discharge at the dynamic magma-water-interface. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L20311.
  • Skilling, I.P. (2009) Subglacial to emergent basaltic volcanism at Hlöðufell, south-west Iceland: A history of ice-confinement. J. Volcanol. Geoth. Res., 185, 276-289.
  • Smellie, J.L., Millar, I.L., Rex, D.C. and Butterworth, P.J. (1998) Subaqueous, basaltic lava dome and carapace breccia on King George Island, South Shetland Islands, Antarctica. Bull. Volcanol., 59, 245- 261.
  • Smellie, J.L. (2002) The 1969 subglacial eruption on Deception Island (Antarctica): events and processes during an eruption beneath a thin glacier and implications for volcanic hazards. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 202, 59-79.
  • Smellie, J.L. (2002) The 1969 subglacial eruption on Deception Island (Antarctica): events and processes during an eruption beneath a thin glacier and implications for volcanic hazards. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 202, 59-79.

Tabular lavas above knobs of complexly jointed andesite possibly intruded into wet clastic debris, Tongariro volcano.
Tabular lavas above knobs of complexly jointed andesite possibly intruded into wet clastic debris, Tongariro volcano.

  • Tuffen, H. (2007) Models of ice melting and edifice growth at the onset of subglacial basaltic eruptions. J. Geophys. Res., 112, B03203: 10.1029/2006jb004523
  • Tuffen, H., Owen, J. and Denton, J. (2010) Magma degassing during subglacial eruptions and its use to reconstruct palaeo-ice thicknesses. Earth-Science Reviews, 99, 1-18.
  • Wilson, L. and Head, J.W., III (2002) Heat transfer and melting in subglacial basaltic volcanic eruptions: implications for volcanic deposit morphology and meltwater volumes. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 202, 5-26.
  • Zimanowski, B. and Buettner, R. (2003) Phreatomagmatic explosions in subaqueous volcanism. In: Explosive Subaqueous Volcanism (Eds J.D.L. White, J.L. Smellie and D.A. Clague), American Geophysical Union Monograph, 140, pp. 51-60. American Geophysical Union, Washington DC.