Negative magnetic anomaly over Mt. Resnik, a subaerially erupted volcanic peak beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet

Terra Antarctica
By: , and 


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Mt. Resnik is one of the previously reported 18 subaerially erupted volcanoes (in the West Antarctic rift system), which have high elevation and high bed relief beneath the WAIS in the Central West Antarctica (CWA) aerogeophysical survey. Mt. Resnik lies 300 m below the surface of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS); it has 1.6 km topographic relief, and a conical form defined by radar ice-sounding of bed topography. It has an associated complex negative magnetic anomaly revealed by the CWA survey. We calculated and interpreted magnetic models fit to the Mt. Resnik anomaly as a volcanic source comprising both reversely and normally magnetized (in the present field direction) volcanic flows, 0.5-2.5-km thick, erupted subaerially during a time of magnetic field reversal. The Mt. Resnik 305-nT anomaly is part of an approximately 50- by 40-km positive anomaly complex extending about 30 km to the west of the Mt. Resnik peak, associated with an underlying source complex of about the same area, whose top is at the bed of the WAIS. The bed relief of this shallow source complex has a maximum of only about 400 m, whereas the modeled source is >3 km thick. From the spatial relationship we interpret that this source and Mt Resnik are approximately contemporaneous. Any subglacially (older?) erupted edifices comprising hyaloclastite or other volcanic debris, which formerly overlaid the source to the west, were removed by the moving WAIS into which they were injected as is the general case for the ???1000 volcanic centers at the base of the WAIS. The presence of the magnetic field reversal modeled for Mt. Resnik may represent the Bruhnes-Matayama reversal at 780 ka (or an earlier reversal). There are ???100 short-wavelength, steep-gradient, negative magnetic anomalies observed over the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), or about 10% of the approximately 1000 short-wavelength, shallow-source, high-amplitude (50- >1000 nT) "volcanic" magnetic anomalies in the CWA survey. These negative anomalies indicate volcanic activity during a period of magnetic reversal and therefore must also be at least 780 ka. The spatial extent and volume of volcanism can now be reassessed for the 1.2 ?? 106 km2 region of the WAIS characterized by magnetic anomalies defining interpreted volcanic centers associated with the West Antarctic rift system. The CWA covers an area of 3.54 ?? 105 km2; forty-four percent of that area exhibits short-wavelength, high-amplitude anomalies indicative of volcanic centers and subvolcanic intrusions. This equates to an area of 0.51 ?? 105 km2 and a volume of 106 km3 beneath the ice-covered West Antarctic rift system, of sufficient extent to be classified as a large igneous province interpreted to be of Oligocene to recent age.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Negative magnetic anomaly over Mt. Resnik, a subaerially erupted volcanic peak beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet
Series title Terra Antarctica
Issue 12
Year Published 2006
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Terra Antarctica
First page 203
Last page 212
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