The geology of Mount Erebus and its tectonic setting in Antarctica
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree LevelPostgraduate Certificate
Degree NamePostgraduate Certificate in Antarctic Studies
This review aims to outline current geological knowledge surrounding the Mount Erebus Volcano and its association with the wider tectonic setting present in Antarctica. Mount Erebus was discovered in 1841 and for the moment it is the most active Volcano on the Antarctic continent. It is located on Ross Island in the Ross Sea of Antarctica (Harpel et al. 2004). ROSS Island is the base for both New Zealand's Scott Base and the USAS McMurdo Station and this has resulted in the volcanoes frequent observation since 1956. In 1972 yearly observations of the volcanoe's lava lake were begun (From Kyle 1982 as cited in Harpel et al. 2004). Since then it has been studied extensively, and numerous papers have been Written on its geology. Mount Erebus is the Worlds southernmost active volcano and is 3794 meters high. It dominates the landscape of Ross Island and its volcanic structure and the processes which have led to the formation of these features are discussed in this review with close reference to Esser, Kyle and McIntosh (2004). Mount Erebus is classed as an alkaline intraplate stratovolcano (Behrendt 1999) and has been produced by distinct volcanic phases (Esser, Kyle & McIntosh 2004). Within the last 95,000 years eruptive activity in the summit region of Mount Erebus has included lava flows, Small strombolian eruptions and at least one, possibly two caldera forming events. At least one plinian eruption has occurred from Mt Erebus within this time frame (Harpelet al. 2004). The mountain produces frequent strombolian style eruptions from a convecting phonolitic lava lake which is located at the bottom of the main Crater (Panter & Winter 2008). The volcano is directly associated with the Terror Rift (Behrendt 1999). This is in turn associated with the West Antarctic Rift System making Mount Erebus one of many volcanoes associated with this larger continental scale rift system (Kyle 1990). A thermal anomaly has been observed underneath Ross Island and this is thought to represent a mantle plume feature which is responsible for the volcanism of Ross Island (Gupta, Zhao & Rai 2009).
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