A new Holocene eruptive history of Erebus volcano, Antarctica using cosmogenic 3He and 36Cl exposure ages Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The ages of recent effusive eruptions on Erebus volcano, Antarctica are poorly known. Published 40Ar/39Ar ages of the 10 youngest “post-caldera” lava flows are unreliable because of the young ages of the flows (<10 ka) and the presence of excess 40Ar. Here we use cosmogenic 3He and 36Cl to provide new ages for the 10 youngest flows and 3 older summit flows, including a newly recognized flow distinguished by its exposure age. Estimated eruption ages of the post-caldera flows, assuming no erosion or prior snow cover, range from 4.52 ± 0.08 ka to 8.50 ± 0.19 ka, using Lifton et al. (2014) to scale cosmogenic production rates. If the older Lal (1991)/Stone (2000) model is used to scale production rates, calculated ages are older by 16–25%. Helium-3 and chlorine-36 exposure ages measured on the same samples show excellent agreement. Helium-3 ages measured on clinopyroxene and olivine from the same samples are discordant, probably due in part to lower-than-expected 3He production rates in the Fe-rich olivine. Close agreement of multiple clinopyroxene 3He ages from each flow indicates that the effects of past snow coverage on the exposure ages have been minimal. The new cosmogenic ages differ considerably from published 40Ar/39Ar and 36Cl ages and reveal that the post-caldera flows were erupted during relatively brief periods of effusive activity spread over an interval of ?4 ka. The average eruption rate over this interval is estimated to be 0.01 km3/ka. Because the last eruption was at least 4 ka ago, and the longest repose interval between the 10 youngest eruptions is ?1 ka, we consider the most recent period of effusive activity to have ended.

publication date

  • October 2015