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Miocene volcanic seamounts on northern Lord Howe Rise: lithology, age and origin

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 16:04 authored by Exon, NF, Quilty, PG, Lafoy, Y, Anthony CrawfordAnthony Crawford, Auzende, JM
Multibeam sonar swath-mapping has revealed small submarine volcanic cones on the northeastern Lord Howe Rise, a submerged ribbon continent. Two such cones, aligned north-northwest and 120 km apart, were dredged at 23-24°S. Water depth is about 1150 m nearby: the southern cone rises to 750 m and the northern to 900 m. Volcanic rocks dredged from the cones are predominantly highly altered hyaloclastites with minor basalt. The clasts are mostly intensely altered vesicular brownish glass with lesser basalt, set in zeolitic, clayey, micritic, or ferruginous cement. Lavas and hyaloclastites contain altered phenocrysts of olivine and plagioclase, and fresh clinopyroxene. The latter have compositions between acmite and Ti-augite, matching clinopyroxene phenocrysts in undersaturated intraplate basanitic mofic lavas. Interbedded micrites in the volcaniclastics represent calcareous ooze that was deposited with (or later than) the volcanic pile. Foraminifers indicate that the micrite is dominantly Early Miocene (cc 16 Ma), and that the ooze was deposited in cool water. Upper Miocene to Pliocene micrites, presumed to be later infillings, all contain worm-water forms. This evidence strongly suggests that both cones formed in pelagic depths in the Early Miocene, Ferromanganese crusts from the two cones are up to 7 cm thick and similar physically, but different chemically. The average growth rate is 4 mm/106 y. Copper, nickel, and cobalt content are relatively high in the north, but copper does not exceed 0.08 w1%, nickel 0.650%, and cobalt 0.25%, The Mn:Fe ratio is high in the south (average 13.7) suggesting strong hydrothermal influence. Such small volcanic cones related to intraplate hot-spot-type volcanism may occur in extensive fields on the Lord Howe Rise, like those off southern Tasmania. On the Lord Howe Rise, the known small volcanic cones coincide with broad gravity highs in areas of shallow continental basement. The highs are aligned parallel to the Lord Howe Rise margins, and it is probable that the Miocene volcanism is related to jostling on older faults. Other fields of small volcanic seamounts may occur on the Lord Howe Rise on such fractured gravity highs.


Publication title

Australian Journal of Earth Sciences








School of Natural Sciences


Blackwell Science Asia

Place of publication

Melbourne, Australia

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Expanding knowledge in the earth sciences

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