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New insights into Holocene eruption episodes from proximal deposit sequences at Mt. Taranaki (Egmont), New Zealand

Research paper by Rafael Torres-Orozco, Shane J. Cronin; Natalia Pardo; Alan S. Palmer

Indexed on: 15 Jan '17Published on: 19 Dec '16Published in: Bulletin of Volcanology



Abstract

Abstract Upper stratovolcano flanks contain the most nuanced depositional record of long eruption episodes, but steep, irregular terrain makes these sequences difficult to correlate and interpret. This necessitates development of a detailed and systematic approach to describing localized depositional facies and relating these to eruptive processes. In this work, the late-Holocene eruption history of Mt. Taranaki/Egmont, New Zealand, was re-assessed based on a study of proximal deposits spanning the 14C-dated age range of ~5.0–0.3 cal ka B.P. Mt. Taranaki is a textbook-example stratovolcano, with geological evidence pointing to sudden switches in scale, type and frequency of eruptions over its ~130 ka history. The proximal stratigraphy presented here almost doubles the number of eruptions recognized from previous soil-stratigraphy studies. A total of 53 lithostratigraphic bed-sets record eruptions of the summit crater and parasitic vents like Fanthams Peak (the latter between ~3.0 and 1.5 cal ka B.P.). At least 12 of the eruptions represented by these bed-sets comprise deposits comparable with or thicker than those of the latest sub-Plinian eruption of AD 1655. The largest eruption episode represented is the 4.6–4.7-cal ka B.P. Kokowai. Contrasting eruption styles were identified, from stable basaltic-andesite eruption columns at Fanthams Peak, to andesitic lava-dome extrusion, blasts and partial collapse of unstable eruption columns at Mt. Taranaki’s summit. The centemetre-scale proximal deposit descriptions were used to identify several previously unknown, smaller eruption events. These details are indispensable for building a comprehensive probabilistic event record and in the development of realistic eruptive scenarios for complex eruption episodes prior to re-awakening of a volcano.AbstractUpper stratovolcano flanks contain the most nuanced depositional record of long eruption episodes, but steep, irregular terrain makes these sequences difficult to correlate and interpret. This necessitates development of a detailed and systematic approach to describing localized depositional facies and relating these to eruptive processes. In this work, the late-Holocene eruption history of Mt. Taranaki/Egmont, New Zealand, was re-assessed based on a study of proximal deposits spanning the 14C-dated age range of ~5.0–0.3 cal ka B.P. Mt. Taranaki is a textbook-example stratovolcano, with geological evidence pointing to sudden switches in scale, type and frequency of eruptions over its ~130 ka history. The proximal stratigraphy presented here almost doubles the number of eruptions recognized from previous soil-stratigraphy studies. A total of 53 lithostratigraphic bed-sets record eruptions of the summit crater and parasitic vents like Fanthams Peak (the latter between ~3.0 and 1.5 cal ka B.P.). At least 12 of the eruptions represented by these bed-sets comprise deposits comparable with or thicker than those of the latest sub-Plinian eruption of AD 1655. The largest eruption episode represented is the 4.6–4.7-cal ka B.P. Kokowai. Contrasting eruption styles were identified, from stable basaltic-andesite eruption columns at Fanthams Peak, to andesitic lava-dome extrusion, blasts and partial collapse of unstable eruption columns at Mt. Taranaki’s summit. The centemetre-scale proximal deposit descriptions were used to identify several previously unknown, smaller eruption events. These details are indispensable for building a comprehensive probabilistic event record and in the development of realistic eruptive scenarios for complex eruption episodes prior to re-awakening of a volcano.14