Controls on volcanism at intraplate basaltic volcanic fields

Jackson C. van den Hove, Jozua Van Otterloo, Peter G. Betts, Laurent Ailleres, Ray A.F. Cas

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A broad range of controlling mechanisms is described for intraplate basaltic volcanic fields (IBVFs) in the literature. These correspond with those relating to shallow tectonic processes and to deep mantle plumes. Accurate measurement of the physical parameters of intraplate volcanism is fundamental to gain an understanding of the controlling factors that influence the scale and location of a specific IBVF. Detailed volume and geochronology data are required for this; however, these are not available for many IBVFs. In this study the primary controls on magma genesis and transportation are established for the Pliocene–Recent Newer Volcanics Province (NVP) of south-eastern Australia as a case-study for one of such IBVF. The NVP is a large and spatio-temporally complex IBVF that has been described as either being related to a deep mantle plume, or upper mantle and crustal processes. We use innovative high resolution aeromagnetic and 3D modelling analysis, constrained by well-log data, to calculate its dimensions, volume and long-term eruptive flux. Our estimates suggest volcanic deposits cover an area of 23,100 ± 530 km2 and have a preserved dense rock equivalent of erupted volcanics of least 680 km3, and may have been as large as 900 km3. The long-term mean eruptive flux of the NVP is estimated between 0.15 and 0.20 km3/ka, which is relatively high compared with other IBVFs. Our comparison with other IBVFs shows eruptive fluxes vary up to two orders of magnitude within individual fields. Most examples where a range of eruptive flux is available for an IBVF show a correlation between eruptive flux and the rate of local tectonic processes, suggesting tectonic control. Limited age dating of the NVP has been used to suggest there were pulses in its eruptive flux, which are not resolvable using current data. These changes in eruptive flux are not directly relatable to the rate of any interpreted tectonic driver such as edge-driven convection. However, the NVP and other IBVFs used for comparison have long-term eruptive fluxes that are considerably less than definitive plume-related volcanic systems. Along with their spatio-temporal patterns and other analysis it is suggested that the NVP and the vast majority of low- and high-flux IBVFs appear to be the result of tectonic processes without requiring additional thermal input from a deep mantle source. Considering a control on volcanism by tectonic processes, the range of eruptive flux of IBVFs is related to variations in the rate of the effecting tectonic process, mantle composition, and the size of the mantle source zone where melt generation and accumulation is taking place.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)36-47
Number of pages12
JournalEarth and Planetary Science Letters
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017


  • eruptive flux
  • intraplate basaltic volcanic field
  • Newer Volcanics Province
  • tectonically controlled volcanism
  • volume model

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