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Surface morphology of caldera-forming eruption deposits revealed by lidar mapping of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon- Implications for emplacement and surface modification

August 15, 2017

Large explosive eruptions of silicic magma can produce widespread pumice fall, extensive ignimbrite sheets, and collapse calderas. The surfaces of voluminous ignimbrites are rarely preserved or documented because most terrestrial examples are heavily vegetated, or severely modified by post-depositional processes. Much research addresses the internal sedimentary characteristics, flow processes, and depositional mechanisms of ignimbrites, however, surface features of ignimbrites are less well documented and understood, except for comparatively small-volume deposits of historical eruptions. The ~7,700 calendar year B.P. climactic eruption of Mount Mazama, USA vented ~50 km3 of magma, deposited first as rhyodacite pumice fall and then as a zoned rhyodacite-to-andesite ignimbrite as Crater Lake caldera collapsed. Lidar collected during summer 2010 reveals the remarkably well-preserved surface of the Mazama ignimbrite and related deposits surrounding Crater Lake caldera in unprecedented detail despite forest cover. The ±1 m lateral and ±4 cm vertical resolution lidar allows surface morphologies to be classified. Surface morphologies are created by internal depositional processes and can point to the processes at work when pyroclastic flows come to rest. We describe nine surface features including furrow-ridge sets and wedge-shaped mounds in pumice fall eroded by high-energy pyroclastic surges, flow- parallel ridges that record the passage of multiple pyroclastic flows, perched benches of marginal deposits stranded by more-mobile pyroclastic-flow cores, hummocks of dense clasts interpreted as lag deposit, transverse ridges that mark the compression and imbrication of flows as they came to rest, scarps indicating ignimbrite remobilization, fields of pit craters caused by phreatic explosions, fractures and cracks caused by extensional processes resulting from ignimbrite volume loss, and stream channels eroded in the newly formed surface. The nine morphologies presented here illustrate a dynamic depositional environment that varied spatially and with time during the eruption, and show that multiple processes modified the ignimbrite after deposition, both during and after the eruption.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2017
Title Surface morphology of caldera-forming eruption deposits revealed by lidar mapping of Crater Lake National Park, Oregon- Implications for emplacement and surface modification
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.02.012
Authors Joel E. Robinson, Charles R. Bacon, Jon J. Major, Heather M. Wright, James W. Vallance
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70193719
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center