Bulletin of Volcanology

, 75:737 | Cite as

Eruption processes and deposit characteristics at the monogenetic Mt. Gambier Volcanic Complex, SE Australia: implications for alternating magmatic and phreatomagmatic activity

  • Jozua van OtterlooEmail author
  • Raymond A. F. Cas
  • Malcolm J. Sheard
Collection: Monogenetic Volcanism
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Monogenetic Volcanism


The ∼5 ka Mt. Gambier Volcanic Complex in the Newer Volcanics Province, Australia is an extremely complex monogenetic, volcanic system that preserves at least 14 eruption points aligned along a fissure system. The complex stratigraphy can be subdivided into six main facies that record alternations between magmatic and phreatomagmatic eruption styles in a random manner. The facies are (1) coherent to vesicular fragmental alkali basalt (effusive/Hawaiian spatter and lava flows); (2) massive scoriaceous fine lapilli with coarse ash (Strombolian fallout); (3) bedded scoriaceous fine lapilli tuff (violent Strombolian fallout); (4) thin–medium bedded, undulating very fine lapilli in coarse ash (dry phreatomagmatic surge-modified fallout); (5) palagonite-altered, cross-bedded, medium lapilli to fine ash (wet phreatomagmatic base surges); and (6) massive, palagonite-altered, very poorly sorted tuff breccia and lapilli tuff (phreato-Vulcanian pyroclastic flows). Since most deposits are lithified, to quantify the grain size distributions (GSDs), image analysis was performed. The facies are distinct based on their GSDs and the fine ash to coarse+fine ash ratios. These provide insights into the fragmentation intensities and water–magma interaction efficiencies for each facies. The eruption chronology indicates a random spatial and temporal sequence of occurrence of eruption styles, except for a “magmatic horizon” of effusive activity occurring at both ends of the volcanic complex simultaneously. The eruption foci are located along NW–SE trending lineaments, indicating that the complex was fed by multiple dykes following the subsurface structures related to the Tartwaup Fault System. Possible factors causing vent migration along these dykes and changes in eruption styles include differences in magma ascent rates, viscosity, crystallinity, degassing and magma discharge rate, as well as hydrological parameters.


Alternating eruption styles Phreatomagmatic Magmatic Grain size image analysis Mt. Gambier Newer Volcanics Province South Australia 



We would like to thank Jeff Lawson for providing access to the Blue Lake and data of SA Water. This research was supported by the Faculty of Science Dean's Scholarhip awarded to Jozua van Otterloo and discretionary research funds of Ray Cas. Gregg Valentine, Adrian Pittari and Ian Smith are thanked for their careful and constructive reviews.

Supplementary material

445_2013_737_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (375 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 375 kb)
445_2013_737_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (485 kb)
ESM 2 (XLSX 484 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jozua van Otterloo
    • 1
    Email author
  • Raymond A. F. Cas
    • 1
  • Malcolm J. Sheard
    • 2
  1. 1.Monash Volcanology Research Group (MONVOLC), School of GeosciencesMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia
  2. 2.Department for Manufacturing, Innovation, Trade, Resources and Energy (DMITRE)Geological Survey of South Australia DivisionAdelaideAustralia

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