Unbedded diatreme deposits reveal maar-diatreme-forming eruptive processes: Standing Rocks West, Hopi Buttes, Navajo Nation, USA
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- Lefebvre, N.S., White, J.D.L. & Kjarsgaard, B.A. Bull Volcanol (2013) 75: 739. doi:10.1007/s00445-013-0739-9
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Diatremes provide partial records of how dyke-delivered magma, periodically interacting with water, produces the largest known cylindrical conduit structures of any volcano type. We address how pre-eruptive country rock is disrupted and redistributed to form the diatreme structure during an eruption by establishing the internal architecture of the unbedded diatreme at Standing Rocks West, and the volumes and sources of wall-rock within the diatreme and in a complementary tephra ring at Teshim, both in the Hopi Buttes volcanic field. The unbedded diatreme is dominantly exposed as a massif comprising multiple subvertical columns, interpreted as ephemeral-conduit deposits of well-mixed, poorly sorted, composite and juvenile pyroclast-rich deposits that truncate marginal layered deposits, plus a peripheral heterolithic country rock breccia. Wall-rock clasts are scarce in the massif and were mainly sourced from ~75 to 245 m depth below the paleosurface. By contrast, the tephra ring has abundant wall-rock fragments, dominantly from the upper 75 m of the pre-eruptive sedimentary sequence. The diatreme structure is interpreted to have been formed by many small-volume explosions fed by a low flux of basaltic magma. Late stage explosive activity was rooted mostly within pyroclastic debris at shallow to intermediate depths within the diatreme structure. This resulted in damped and shifting intra-diatreme explosions and jets that facilitated gradual mixing, recycling and remobilization of debris in the diatreme, with incremental addition of juvenile material and possibly a local rise in the crater floor.