Evolution of an englacial volcano: Brown Bluff, Antarctica

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Marine shallow-water to emergent volcanoes have been described in detail, but comparable englacial centres are not well documented. Brown Bluff is a Pleistocene, shallow water, alkali basaltic volcano whose deposits were ponded within an englacial lake, enclosed by ice >400 m thick. Its evolution is divided chronologically into pillow volcano, hyalotuff cone, slope failure and hyaloclastite delta/subaerial stages. Seventeen lithofacies and five structural units (A-E) are recognised and described. The pillow volcano stage (Unit A) is similar to those of many submarine seamount volcanoes. It comprises extrusive and intrusive pillow lavas draped by slumped hyaloclastite. Units B and D define the hyalotuff cone stage, which was centred on a summit vent(s), and comprises slumped, poorly sorted hyalotuffs redeposited downslope by sediment gravity flows and ponded against an ice barrier. This stage also includes water-cooled subaerial lavas and massive hyalotuffs ponded within a crater. Cone construction was interrupted by drainage of the lake and slope failure of the northeast flank, represented by debris avalanche-type deposits (Unit C). Unit E represents the youngest stage and consists of a Gilbert-type hyaloclastite delta(s), which prograded away from a summit vent(s), and compound subaerial lavas. A second drainage episode allowed subaerial lavas to accumulate in the surrounding trough.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)573-591
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number6-7
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1994


  • Hydrovolcanism
  • Englacial
  • Surtseyan Tuff Cone
  • Hyaloclastite


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