Flood volcanic provinces are assumed generally to consist exclusively of thick lavas and shallow intrusive rocks (mostly sills), with any pyroclastic rocks limited to silicie compositions. However, mafic volcaniclastic deposits (MVDs) exist in many provinces, and the eruptions that formed such deposits are potentially meaningful in terms of potential atmospheric impacts and links with mass extinctions. The province where MVDs are the most voluminous-the Siberian Traps-is also the one temporally associated with the greatest Phanerozoic mass extinction. A lot remains to be learned about these deposits and eruptions before a convincing genetic link can be established, but as a first step, this contribution reviews in some detail the current knowledge on MVDs for the provinces in which they are better known, i.e. the North Atlantic Igneous Province (including Greenland, the Faeroe Islands, the British Isles, and tephra layers in the North Sea basin and vicinity), the Ontong Java plateau, the Ferrar, and the Karoo. We also provide a brief overview of what is known about MVDs in other provinces such as the Columbia River Basalts, the Afro-Arabian province, the Deccan Traps, the Siberian Traps, the Emeishan, and an Archean example from Australia.
The thickest accumulations of MVDs occur in flood basalt provinces where they underlie the lava pile (Faeroes: > 1 km, Ferrar province: : 400 m, Siberian Traps: 700 m). In the Faeroes case, the great thickness of MVDs can be attributed to accumulation in a local sedimentary basin, but in the Ferrar and Siberian provinces the deposits are widespread (> 3 X 10(5) km(2) for the latter). On the Ontong Java plateau over 300 m of MVDs occur in one drill hole without any overlying lavas. Where the volcaniclastic deposits are sandwiched between lavas, their thickness is much less.
In most of the cases reviewed, primary MVDs are predominantly of phreatomagmatic origin, as indicated by the clast assemblage generally consisting of basaltic clasts of variable vesicularity (dominantly non- to poorly-vesicular) mixed with abundant country rock debris. The accidental lithic components often include loose quartz particles derived from poorly consolidated sandstones in underlying sedimentary basins (East Greenland, Ferrar, Karoo). These underlying sediments or sedimentary rocks were not only a source for debris but also aquifers that supplied water to fuel phreatomagmatic activity. In the Parand-Etendeka, by contrast, the climate was apparently very dry when the lavas were emplaced (aeolian sand dunes) and no MVDs are reported. Volcanic vents filled with mafic volcaniclastic material, a few tens of metres to about 5 kin across, are documented in several provinces (Deccan, North Atlantic, Ferrar, Karoo); they are thought to have been excavated in relatively soft country rocks (rarely in flood lavas) by phreatomagmatic activity in a manner analogous to diatreme formation.
|Number of pages||34|
|Journal||Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research|
|Publication status||Published - 30 Jul 2005|
- flood basalts
- Large Igneous Province
- Permian-Triassic Boundary
- Ferrar Magmatic Province
- Columbia River Basalt
- South Victoria Land
- East Greenland
- South West China
- Transantarctic Mountains