Bulletin of Volcanology

, 81:56 | Cite as

Seismic reflection and petrographic interpretation of a buried monogenetic volcanic Field (part 1)

  • Alan BischoffEmail author
  • Marcos Rossetti
  • Andrew Nicol
  • Ben Kennedy
Research Article


Buried volcanoes occur in great numbers within sedimentary basins globally. Knowledge of ancient buried volcanic systems has improved significantly over the past two decades. The in-depth understanding of these buried systems was mainly possible due to increasing availability of high-quality seismic reflection and subsurface borehole data. This paper examines a cluster of Miocene volcanoes now buried by ca. 1000 m of sedimentary strata in the Canterbury Basin, New Zealand. These volcanoes were imaged by 2D seismic lines and perforated by the Resolution-1 borehole. We refer to this group of volcanoes and related intrusive bodies as the Maahunui Volcanic Field (MVF). Here, we present detailed petrographic and seismic reflection interpretation of some representative volcanoes of the MVF, and of the strata that enclose them, to constrain the environments in which intrusions and eruptions occurred. Intrusive rocks penetrated by the Resolution-1 comprise a monzogabbro body with a saucer-shape geometry emplaced in organic-rich sedimentary layers. The monzogabbro contains miarolitic cavities and ophitic textures which, together with decompaction of its overburdened sedimentary strata, suggest an emplacement depth around 950 m below the paleo-seafloor. Seismic lines show an array of faults at the tips of the saucer-shaped monzogabbro. These faults are connected with the root of some volcanoes and may have formed feeder systems for eruptions and hydrothermal fluids onto the Miocene paleo-seafloor. Volcaniclastic rocks comprise abundant glassy shards, relics of bubble walls, spheroidal fragments enveloped in a palagonite film, broken phenocrysts, and lithics. These volcaniclastic rocks are interbedded with lower bathyal siltstones, indicating that eruptions near the location of the Resolution-1 occurred in a deep-submarine environment (1000–1500 m). Integration of petrographic, geochemical, and seismic reflection interpretation suggest that the volcaniclastic rocks have a genetic relationship with the saucer-shaped monzogabbro, which may have served as a shallow stationary magma chamber for some volcanoes in the MVF. The available data indicate processes of intense material fragmentation and particle dispersion, consistent with phreatomagmatic eruptions, although globally this eruptive style is rarely interpreted to occur at water depths > 1000 m. The emplacement of intrusions into organic-rich sedimentary rocks could incorporate thermogenic gases into the magmatic system, providing supplementary driving forces to form large deep-water pyroclastic eruptions.


Buried volcanoes Seismic reflection Deep-water eruptions 



We would like to thank IHS Markit and Schlumberger for providing academic license to use the Kingdom and Petrel software, and the NZPM for providing the dataset for this study. Thanks to Jane Newman for the petrographic insights, to Simon Holford and Sverre Planke for their excellent reviews of the manuscript, and to Judy Fierstein for helping to improve this paper.

Supplementary material

445_2019_1316_MOESM1_ESM.docx (14 kb)
ESM 1 XRF results from Rock Association I (intrusive) and Rock Association V (extrusive) of Resolution-1. Sn correspond to the number of shots given in each sample. Major elements are presented in weight percent (wt%), while incompatible elements are in parts per million (ppm). (DOCX 13 kb)
445_2019_1316_Fig16_ESM.png (1.5 mb)

Results from EDS analysis of volcanic glass from Rock Association V. (PNG 1505 kb)

445_2019_1316_MOESM2_ESM.tif (37.3 mb)
High Resolution Image (TIF 38162 kb)


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Copyright information

© International Association of Volcanology & Chemistry of the Earth's Interior 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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