An areally extensive volcanic mass-flow deposit of Pleistocene age, known as the Chetaslina volcanic mass-flow deposit, is a prominent and visually striking deposit in the southeastern Copper River lowland of south-central Alaska. The mass-flow deposit consists of a diverse mixture of colorful, variably altered volcanic rocks, lahar deposits, glaciolacustrine diamicton, and till that record a major flank collapse on the southwest flank of Mount Wrangell. The deposit is well exposed near its presumed source, and thick, continuous, stratigraphic exposures have permitted us to study its sedimentary characteristics as a means of better understanding the origin, significance, and evolution of the deposit. Deposits of the Chetaslina volcanic mass flow in the Chetaslina River drainage are primary debris-avalanche deposits and consist of two principal facies types, a near-source block facies and a distal mixed facies. The block facies is composed entirely of block-supported, shattered and fractured blocks with individual blocks up to 40 m in diameter. The mixed facies consists of block-sized particles in a matrix of poorly sorted rock rubble, sand, and silt generated by the comminution of larger blocks. Deposits of the Chetaslina volcanic mass flow exposed along the Copper, Tonsina, and Chitina rivers are debris-flow deposits that evolved from the debris-avalanche component of the flow and from erosion and entrainment of local glacial and glaciolacustrine diamicton in the Copper River lowland. The debris-flow deposits were probably generated through mixing of the distal debris avalanche with the ancestral Copper River, or through breaching of a debris-avalanche dam across the ancestral river. The distribution of facies types and major-element chemistry of clasts in the deposit indicate that its source was an ancestral volcanic edifice, informally known as the Chetaslina vent, on the southwest side of Mount Wrangell. A major sector collapse of the Chetaslina vent initiated the Chetaslina volcanic mass flow forming a debris avalanche of about 4 km3 that subsequently transformed to a debris flow of unknown volume.
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Flank collapse at Mount Wrangell, Alaska, recorded by volcanic mass-flow deposits in the Copper River lowland