Author Posting. © American Geophysical Union, 2014. This article is posted here by permission of American Geophysical Union for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 15 (2014): 4093–4115, doi:10.1002/2014GC005387.
We present multiple lines of evidence for years to decade-long changes in the location and character of volcanic activity at West Mata seamount in the NE Lau basin over a 16 year period, and a hiatus in summit eruptions from early 2011 to at least September 2012. Boninite lava and pyroclasts were observed erupting from its summit in 2009, and hydroacoustic data from a succession of hydrophones moored nearby show near-continuous eruptive activity from January 2009 to early 2011. Successive differencing of seven multibeam bathymetric surveys of the volcano made in the 1996–2012 period reveals a pattern of extended constructional volcanism on the summit and northwest flank punctuated by eruptions along the volcano's WSW rift zone (WSWRZ). Away from the summit, the volumetrically largest eruption during the observational period occurred between May 2010 and November 2011 at ∼2920 m depth near the base of the WSWRZ. The (nearly) equally long ENE rift zone did not experience any volcanic activity during the 1996–2012 period. The cessation of summit volcanism recorded on the moored hydrophone was accompanied or followed by the formation of a small summit crater and a landslide on the eastern flank. Water column sensors, analysis of gas samples in the overlying hydrothermal plume and dives with a remotely operated vehicle in September 2012 confirmed that the summit eruption had ceased. Based on the historical eruption rates calculated using the bathymetric differencing technique, the volcano could be as young as several thousand years.
Support for R.W.E. during this study was by internal NOAA funding to the NOAA Vents Program (now Earth-Ocean Interactions Program). The NSF Ridge 2000 and MARGINS programs played a major role in the planning and justification for the 2009 rapid response proposal that funded the May 2009 expedition. MBARI provided support and outstanding postprocessing of the multibeam bathymetry from the D. Allan B. AUV multibeam sonar used in this study. NSF also provided major funding for the 2009 expedition (OCE930025 and OCE-0934660 to JAR) and for the 210Po-210Pb radiometric dating (OCE-0929881 and for the 210Po-210Pb radiometric dating (OCE-0929881 to KHR)). The NOAA Office of Exploration and Research provided major funding for the 2009 and 2012 field programs.
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