Bulletin of Volcanology

, 75:700 | Cite as

The structure and morphology of the Basse Terre Island, Lesser Antilles volcanic arc

  • Lucie MathieuEmail author
  • Benjamin van Wyk de Vries
  • Claire Mannessiez
  • Nelly Mazzoni
  • Cécile Savry
  • Valentin R. Troll
Research Article


Basse Terre Island is made up of a cluster of composite volcanoes that are part of the Lesser Antilles volcanic arc. The morphology of these volcanoes and the onshore continuation of the grabens and strike–slip faults that surround the island are poorly documented due to erosion and rainforest cover. Therefore, we conducted a morphological analysis of the island using Digital Elevation Model (DEM) data integrated with field observations to document erosional, constructional, and deformational processes. A DEM-based analysis of 1,249 lineaments and field structural measurements of 16 normal faults, 3,741 veins and fractures, and 46 dykes was also carried to document the structures that predominate in sub-surface rocks. The results indicate that the over 1-My-old and elongated Northern Chain volcano, which makes up the northern half of the island, was built by high eruption rates and/or a low viscosity magma injected along the N–S to NNW–SSE-striking extensional structures formed by the flexure of the lithosphere by the overall subduction regime. After 1 Ma, the southern half of the island was shaped by an alignment of conical volcanoes, likely built by a more viscous magma type that was guided by the NW–SE-striking Montserrat-Bouillante strike–slip fault system. These N to NNW and NW structural directions are however poorly expressed onshore, possibly due to slow slip motion. The sub-surface rocks mostly contain E–W-striking structures, which have likely guided the many flank instabilities documented in the studied area, and guide hydrothermal fluids and shallow magmatic intrusions. These structures are possibly part of the E–W-striking Marie-Gallante offshore graben.


Volcano-tectonic Structure Morphology Digital elevation model (DEM) Basse Terre Island Lesser Antilles 



Many thanks to Erwan Bourdon, Simon Lopez, Bouchot Vincent, and Alain Gadalia from the BRGM (Bureau de Recherche Géologique et Miniéres, Orléans) and to Daniel Beaufort, Patricia Patrier Mas, and Jean-Christophe Komorowski for their valuable remarks which have helped us throughout this study. We thank Dominique, Franck, Martine, and all the Guadeloupeans who shared their passion for canyoneering with us. Warm thanks are also addressed to Paul Byrne and Alessandro Tibaldi for their useful reviews and to August Gudmundsson for its efficient and constructive advices and editing. This Ph.D. work has been carried at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland and Blaise-Pascal University, France, and the Ph.D. of LM has been funded by IRCSET (Irish Research Council for Sciences, Engineering and Technology), which is gratefully acknowledged. The fieldwork in the Antilles has been funded by the ANR-VOLCARISK project (Blaise-Pascal University, France).

Supplementary material

445_2013_700_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (3.9 mb)
ESM 1 (PDF 3948 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucie Mathieu
    • 1
    • 2
    • 4
    Email author
  • Benjamin van Wyk de Vries
    • 2
  • Claire Mannessiez
    • 2
  • Nelly Mazzoni
    • 2
  • Cécile Savry
    • 2
  • Valentin R. Troll
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of GeologyTrinity College DublinDublinIreland
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Magmas et VolcansUniversité Blaise-PascalClermont-FerrandFrance
  3. 3.Department of Earth Sciences, CEMPEG, Solid Earth GeologyUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.CONSOREM, Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC)ChicoutimiCanada

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