Abstract

Thick accumulations of pyroclastic deposits have emanated from the Mt Misery volcano on St Kitts, Lesser Antilles, during two major eruptive episodes (2-3000 and 41000 a BP). Systematic logging of coastal sections in the northern part of the island has revealed a variety of deposits, including pyroclastic flows, surges and intermittent air fall. Palaeosols and one laterally persistant surge deposit provide important marker horizons, permitting correlation of the intervening and less persistent flow deposits.

Block and ash flows (traditionally termed nuée ardentes) can be subdivided into andesitic Pelean-type and basaltic andesite St Vincent-type deposits, closely corresponding to the products of historic pyroclastic eruptions in the Lesser Antilles. Finer grained ash flows are equally voluminous and comprise scoria, semi-vesicular andesite and mixed magma and ash deposits. A significant pyroclastic surge component has been recognized with characteristic bedforms. Field evidence suggests that there is a continuous gradation between flow and surge deposits. Collectively the pyroclastic flow deposits are all of the small volume type and are commonly stratified, with poor to moderate sorting and coarse tail grading. Where thickly developed they show an internal depositional sequence compatible with the standard ignimbrite flow unit. Well developed bedforms include steeply incised U-shaped gullies eroded by the infilling flows.

The depositional characteristics of these pyroclastic flows appears to be a function of the physical properties of the magma on eruption, initial flow magnitude, potential energy and degree of topographic channel formation. In general grain-size and the erosive potential of the flow increases with increasing channel formation, whilst sorting and the degree of stratification decrease. The development of graded bedding is, however, apparently unaffected.

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