Geologische Rundschau

, 85:390 | Cite as

A new model for the evolution of table mountains: volcanological and petrological evidence from herdubreid and Herdubreidartögl volcanoes (Iceland)

  • R. WernerEmail author
  • H. -U. Schmincke
  • G. Sigvaldason
Short Note


We present a new model for the evolution of volcanic table mountains, based on volcanological and petrological studies of Herdubreid/Herdubreidartögl, an upper Pleistocene volcanic complex within the active Icelandic rift zone. The evolution of these table mountains is highly complex and influenced substantially by different eruptive environments as well as changing magma sources and volcanic and magmatic processes. Whereas current models imply entirely subglacial conditions and continuous compositional (“monogenetic”) evolution for these volcanoes, we subdivide their evolution into four eruptive periods characterized by different environments: (a) Subaerial lava flows erupted during an interglacial period. (b) Lavas and voluminous hydroclastic deposits formed in a lake during a waning period of the last glaciation. (c) Subglacial eruptions during thickening of the ice sheet as a result of a climatic deterioration built pillow lava piles overlain by steep-sided complexes of hydroclastic deposits. These deposits differ from those of the second eruptive period in structure, texture, and degree of alteration. Subaerial lava flows and agglutinates covered these deposits after buildup above the ice sheet. (d) Subaerial lava flows and fallout deposits during a postglacial period. The detailed analysis of volcanic table mountains appears to be a very sensitive indicator of climatic fluctuations. Although most deposits of the studied volcanoes were formed during the waning period of the last glaciation, the subglacial deposits in the upper part of the volcanic complex reflect a temporary, but major, thickening of the ice sheet.

Key words

Iceland Table mountains Subglacial/subaqueous volcanism Hyaloclastites Paleoenvironment 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH & Co KG 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Volcanology and Petrology, GeomarKielGermany
  2. 2.Nordic Volcanological InstituteUniversity of IcelandReykjavìkIceland

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