Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 53, Issue 8, pp 597–611 | Cite as

Pleistocene mass-flow deposits of basaltic hyaloclastite on a shallow submarine shelf, South Iceland

  • Steffen G Bergh
  • Gudmundur E Sigvaldason


A Pleistocene subaqueous, volcanic sequence in South Iceland consists of flows of basaltic hyaloclastite and lava with interbedded sedimentary diamictite units. Emplacement occurred on a distal submarine shelf in drowned valleys along the southern coast of Iceland. The higher sea level was caused by eustatic sea-level change, probably towards the end of a glaciation. This sequence, nearly 700 m thick, rests unconformably on eroded flatlying lavas and sedimentary rocks of likely Tertiary age. A Standard Depositional Unit, describing the flows of hyaloclastite, starts with compact columnar-jointed basalt overlain by cubejointed basalt, and/or pillow lava. This in turn is overlain by thick unstructured hyaloclastite containing aligned basalt lobes, and bedded hyaloclastite at the top. A similar lithofacies succession is valid for proximal to distal locations. The flows were produced by repeated voluminous extrusions of basaltic lava from subaquatic fissures on the Eastern Rift Zone of Iceland. The fissures are assumed to lie in the same general area as the 1783 Laki fissure which produced 12 km3 of basaltic lava. Due to very high extrusion rates, the effective water/melt ratio was low, preventing optimal fragmentation of the melt. The result was a heterogeneous mass of hyaloclastite and fluid melt which moved “en masse” downslope with the melt at the bottom of the flow and increasingly vesicular hyaloclastite fragments above. The upper and distal parts of the flow moved as low-concentration turbulent suspensions that deposited bedded hyaloclastite.


Lithofacies Basaltic Lava Pillow Lava Diamictite Eastern Rift 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steffen G Bergh
    • 1
  • Gudmundur E Sigvaldason
    • 1
  1. 1.Nordic Volcanological InstituteUniversity of IcelandReykjavikIceland

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