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Characteristics and origin of peperite involving coarse-grained host sediment

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posted on 2023-05-25, 22:44 authored by Squire, RJ, Jocelyn McPhieJocelyn McPhie
Peperite involving basalt and polymictic volcanic conglomerate occurs in the Pliocene Ba Volcanic Group at Yaqara in northern Viti Levu, Fiji. Because the host sediment is coarse-grained and dominated by basalt clasts, the peperite could be easily overlooked and mistaken for another coarse volcaniclastic facies. However, the presence of groups of basalt clasts that show jigsaw-fit texture, fluidally shaped basalt clasts with complete glassy margins, gradational contacts with adjacent sedimentary facies and the absence of stratification indicate that molten basalt mingled with unconsolidated gravel. Using these criteria, we show that other superficially similar, coarse, polymictic facies with fluidal basalt clasts are not peperite. Both blocky and fluidal basalt clasts occur together in the peperite. The amoeboid basalt clasts in the fluidal peperite result from dismembering of ductile, low-viscosity, relatively hot magma. At this stage, propagating magma lobes were probably insulated from direct contact with the wet sediment by a vapour film. The angular, polyhedral basalt clasts in the blocky peperite indicate brittle disintegration of somewhat cooler, higher-viscosity magma. The presence of jigsaw-fit texture and polyhedral clasts with glassy margins suggest that quench fragmentation of the basalt was important in the formation of the blocky peperite. Although there is no positive evidence for steam explosivity, the presence of steam could be recorded by small quartz-filled cavities that occur within the host sediment. The co-existence of fluidal and blocky basalt clasts is interpreted to reflect successive ductile then brittle fragmentation of intruding magma. The change from fluidal to blocky peperite might have resulted from progressive cooling of the magma during intrusion, and also from the breakdown of fluidisation when the limited supply of fine sediment in the host gravel was exhausted.


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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research



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