Abstract

Drilling through the edifice of Rangitoto, the youngest and largest volcano in the “monogenetic” Auckland volcanic field, reveals the multistage eruptive and magmatic history of a small basalt shield volcano. Activity commenced calendar year (cal.) 6000 cal. yr B.P., involving minor effusive and pyroclastic volcanism until 650 cal. yr B.P. This period either represents an early, less productive phase of a single polygenetic volcano, or, alternatively, Rangitoto is better described as a volcanic complex that includes one or more buried edifices concealed by the main structure. A voluminous shield-building phase occurred 650–550 cal. yr B.P., erupting isotopically uniform subalkalic basalts (Mg# 60–64). Four batches of magma distinguished by trace-element chemistry were erupted sequentially, but they lack genetic connection via fractional crystallization or assimilation. Two of the magma batches display linear trends of decreasing incompatible trace-element abundance and increasing ratios of moderately incompatible to highly incompatible elements with decreasing age. This is consistent with cycles of progressive partial melting at the source. The final phase of activity (ca. 550–500 cal. yr B.P.) was explosive and less voluminous, producing scoria cones at the summit. This phase involved more diversity in magma compositions, including more mafic subalkalic basalt, and alkali basalt, pointing to sourcing of magmas simultaneously from different depths in the mantle. Rangitoto volcano contributes to a growing body of evidence showing that major periods of volcanism in “monogenetic” basalt fields occur at centers that have experienced multiple eruption episodes. Changes in magma composition accompany changes in eruption style, but a lack of an obvious shared pattern in magmatic evolution at various volcanoes points to the localized mantle heterogeneity and conduit systems. Hazard scenarios for regions traditionally classified as “monogenetic” need to encompass the possibility of prolonged episodes of activity and reawakening of volcanoes, a significant implication where infrastructure is built on such regions.

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