Tholeiitic‐alkalic transition at subglacial volcanoes, Tuya region, British Columbia, Canada

Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
By: , and 



Ash Mountain, South Tuya, and Tuya Butte are three small basaltic volcanoes in the Stikine volcanic belt of northern British Columbia. The volcanoes rise 700, 500, and 400 m above their bases and are about 3.2, 1.6, and 2.6 km3 in volume, respectively. They began eruptive activity under several hundred meters of overlying glacial ice, or water in an ice‐impounded lake, and undegassed pillow lava was erupted and forms the bases of all three. Later, as the vents grew into shallow water, explosive phreatomagmatic activity erupted partly degassed glassy tuffs. Finally, when the volcano emerged through the surface of the ice or water (or the water was drained), degassed subaerial lava flows were erupted and were converted to assemblages of foreset‐bedded pillow breccia and pillow lava when subaerial flows crossed a shoreline and flowed into meltwater lakes. The undegassed subglacial pillow base of Ash Mountain is overlain by partly degassed pillows and hyaloclastite tuff cut by dikes; at South Tuya the pillow base is overlain by hyaloclastite tuffs and lenses of pillow lava; at Tuya Butte the pillow base is overlain by foreset‐bedded pillow lava, pillow breccias, and hyaloclastite tuffs, which in turn are overlain by subaerial lava flows composing a small shield volcano. The undegassed basal subglacial pillow lava of the three volcanoes contain 0.10 ± 0.01 wt % sulfur and ∼0.5 wt % H2O. The overlying partly degassed assemblages contain 0.06 ± 0.02% sulfur and ∼0.2% H2O at Ash Mountain, 0.07±0.01% sulfur at South Tuya, and 0.03±0.01% sulfur at Tuya Butte. The differences in the degree of degassing can be related to the nature of eruption and quenching and the distance of flow of the subaerial lava. When the volcanoes switched from subglacial to shallow water or subaerial eruptions, as shown by change to more explosive activity and then to subaerial lava flows (and by a marked reduction of sulfur in volcanic glass), the magma shifted from tholeiitic to alkalic composition. This transition occurs at each of the three volcanoes. The tholeiitic and alkalic magmas cannot be related by shallow crystal fractionation and apparently originated by differing degrees of deep melting at a mantle source. Prior to eruption the tholeiitic melts overlay alkalic melts in shallow chambers underlying each of the volcanoes because of their lower density and were, therefore, the first to erupt under subglacial conditions. As the volcano grew through the ice (or ice‐impounded water), the volcanic conduit vented to the atmosphere, producing a partial depressurization of the conduit and the subsurface chamber. This sudden reduction in confining pressure caused enhanced vesiculation of volatile saturated melts, particularly of the more volatile‐rich alkalic melts, causing them to rise to the top of the chamber and erupt.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Tholeiitic‐alkalic transition at subglacial volcanoes, Tuya region, British Columbia, Canada
Series title Journal of Geophysical Research B: Solid Earth
DOI 10.1029/95JB02509
Volume 100
Issue B12
Year Published 1995
Language English
Publisher American Geophysical Union
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 16 p.
First page 24577
Last page 24592
Country Canada
State British Columbia
Other Geospatial Tuya region
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