Niuatahi

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 15.379°S
  • 174.003°W

  • -1270 m
    -4166 ft

  • 243140
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: March 2013 (BGVN 38:03)


Inactive; earthquake swarm began mid-2009, later shallowed

This, our first report on Morne aux Diables, was prompted by a note from Robert Watts at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre, who pointed out that the volcano remains quiet, though with noteworthy seismicity. He also provided clarifications regarding our geologic summary on the Morne aux Diables volcanic complex. Since this is our first report on this volcano and we have had comparatively few on any volcano on this island, we begin this report with a background section on volcanoes located on the island of Dominica. Recent seismicity is discussed in the section on Earthquakes.

Background. Morne aux Diables is the northernmost active volcanic center of the nine centers that exist on the island of Dominica (Lindsay and others, 2005) (figure 1). From N to S, generally, these nine centers are Morne aux Diables, Morne Diablotins, Morne Trois Pitons, Wotten Waven caldera, Valley of Desolation, Grande Soufrière Hills, Morne Watt, Morne Anglais, and Morne Plat Pays (table 1 shows the locations and ages of the latest eruptive rocks from each of these volcanic centers).

Figure 1. Geologic map of Dominica, West Indies, showing Morne aux Diables volcanic center at N end of island. Original map by Roobol and Smith (2004a); copied from Lindsey and others (2005).

Table 1. The most recent eruptive age dates ('ybp' = years before present) reported for Dominica volcanic centers. Rock age dates from Lindsay and others (2005).

Volcanic Center          Latitude, Longitude    Summit          Most recent        Evidence                                                elev. (m)    eruptive age datesMorne aux Diables        15.61°N, 61.43°W       861             46,740 ybp         block-and-ash flow depositMorne Diablotins         15.50°N, 61.36°W       1,430           22,200 ybp         Grand Savanne ignimbriteMorne Trois Pitons       15.37°N, 61.33°W       861             17,240 ybp         block-and-ash flow depositWotten Waven caldera     15.32°N, 61.34°W       -             1,020 ± 40 ybp       Micotrin(?) pumiceous pyroclastic flow depositValley of Desolation     -                      -             2,900 ± 370 ybp      woodGrand Soufriere Hills    15.30°N, 61.28°W       582           10,320 ± 40 ybpMorne Watt               15.31°N, 61.28°W       1,224         -- see Valley of Desolation in text --Morne Anglais            15.28°N, 61.30°W       1,123         26,400 ± 2,500 ybp   scoria fall(?)Morne Plat Pays          15.26°N, 61.34°W       940             450 ± 90 ybp       block-and-ash flow deposits

The only known historical eruptions on the island of Dominica were located in the Valley of Desolation in 1880 and 1997 (Siebert and others, 2010). Siebert and others (2010) also note evidence of recent eruptions from Morne Trois Pitons in 920 AD ± 50 yr, and from Morne Plat Pays in 1270 AD ± 50 yr.

The geology of geothermal areas explored in Dominica was described by Mandela Christian (2012). Previous Bulletin reports addressing Dominica, both discussing seismic increases without attendant eruptions, were issued on Morne Trois Pitons (the latest, SEAN 01:11) and Morne Plat Pays (the latest, BGVN 23:12).

Morne aux Diables complex. Watts sent to the Bulletin in September 2012 the following geological information concerning the Morne aux Diables complex, along with two photographs (figures 2 and 3). His work clarified patterns of seismicity, specifically volcano-tectonic earthquakes, which peaked in 2009 (Watts and others, 2012a, b). The Morne aux Diables complex is comprised of five intact andesitic crystal rich lava domes that form a central depression or 'pseudocrater'. Within the depression, a 'Cold Soufrière' is evident with hydrothermally altered rocks and many small bubbling pools. No eruptions are known from Morne aux Diables in historical time, although the volcano has a youthful appearance, and activity at flank domes likely continued into the late Pleistocene and Holocene (Lindsay and others, 2005). Currently, Ar40-Ar39 dating of blocks from each of the domes is being conducted by Watts.

Figure 2. Panoramic view from E Cabrits dome (see figure 1) looking E to the Morne aux Diables complex. Morne Aux Diables is on the left and Morne Destinee to the right. Courtesy of Richard Arculus and Robert Watts.
Figure 3. Photograph of the Morne aux Diables complex, taken from near Portsmith Town. The topographic high Morne Aux Diables is on the left; Morne Heritiers, center; and Morne Destinee, right. Courtesy of Robert Watts.

Watts also suggested that, for the geological summary for Morne Aux Diables, the "Volcano Type" should be changed to 'Lava-dome complex' from 'Stratovolcano.'

Watts, and Lindsay and others (2005), reported that in 2002 SeaBeam bathymetry highlighted a double peaked lava dome (known informally as Twin Peaks) on the sea floor a few kilometers off the northern coastline of Dominica. The summit of the higher dome (at 15.671°N, 61.476°W) was 153 m below sea level. This northern coastline terminating the N end of the Morne aux Diables complex forms a linear cliff that may represent a fault (see figure 1).

Earthquakes. The pattern of earthquakes beneath Morne aux Diables was described by Watts and others (2012a and 2012b). "Historically, the most common area of seismic activity has been in the SE sector of Dominica. However, in the N, there have been spurts in activity in 1841, 1893, 2000, and a particularly intense week-long burst of >500 earthquakes in 2003. Following 6 years of low activity, a near-continuous series of earthquake events has been recorded beneath the central area of Morne aux Diables since June 2009... The seismic swarm continues with variations in activity that are more consistent with volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquake activity than a tectonic swarm."

The VT earthquakes series reached a peak in December 2009, with many felt events experienced by villagers on the flanks of the volcano, but earthquake activity since then has gradually been diminishing. Since December 2010, VT earthquakes centered at the volcano have shown a gradual shallowing with time (a few approaching 1 km depth), indicating that they are related to a vertical re adjustment of the stresses below the volcano, most likely caused by magma movement. According to Watts and others (2012b), the seismic network increased from three stations to five stations in January 2010.

References. Christian, M.D., 2012, A geological outlook on geothermal explorations in Dominica, Geo-Heat Center, Oregon Institute of Technology, Quarterly Bulletin v. 31, no. 2, pp. 18-22 (http://www.geoheat.oit.edu/bulletin/bull31-2/art4.pdf).

Lindsay, J.M., Smith, A.L., Roobol, M.J., and Stasiuk, M.V., 2005, Dominica, p. 1-48 in: Lindsay, J.M., Robertson, R.E.A., Shepherd, J.B. and Ali, S. (eds), Volcanic Hazard Atlas of the Lesser Antilles, Seismic Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago, WI.

Roobol, M.J., and Smith, A.L., 2004a. Volcanology of Saba and St. Eustatius, northern Lesser Antilles, Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Letters, 320 p.

Roobol, M.J., and Smith, A.L., 2004b, Geologic map of Dominica, West Indies (URL: http://www.caribbeanvolcanoes.com/dominica/content/dominicamap.pdf).

Siebert, L., Simkin, T., and Kimberly, P., 2010, Volcanoes of the world, Smithsonian Institution, University of California Press, Berkeley, 551p.

Watts, R.B., Robertson, R.E., Abraham, W., Cole, P., de Roche, T., Edwards, S., Higgins, M., Johnson, M., Joseph, E.P., Latchman, J., Lynch, L., Nisha, N., Ramsingh, C., and Stewart, R.C., 2012a , Elevated seismic activity beneath the slumbering Morne aux Diables volcano, Northern Dominica and the monitoring role of the Seismic Research Center, American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2012, San Francisco, CA (URL: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/eposterss/eposter/v53e-2879/).

Watts, R., Robertson, R., Abraham, W., Cole, P., Corriette, D., de Roche, T., Edwards, S., Higgins, M., Issacs, N., Johnson, M., Joseph, E., Latchman, J., Lynch, L., Nisha, N., Phillip, B., Ramsingh, C., and Stewart, R., 2012b, Elevated seismic activity beneath the slumbering Morne aux Diables volcano, northern Dominica, poster on UWISRC web (URL: http://www.uwiseismic.com/Downloads/Dominica_activity_Poster_Watts.pdf).

Information Contacts: Robert B. Watts, The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies (URL: http://www.uwiseismic.com, Email: robwatts@uwiseismic.com).

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Niuatahi.

Index of Bulletin Reports


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

03/2013 (BGVN 38:03) Inactive; earthquake swarm began mid-2009, later shallowed




Bulletin Reports

All information contained in these reports is preliminary and subject to change.


03/2013 (BGVN 38:03) Inactive; earthquake swarm began mid-2009, later shallowed

This, our first report on Morne aux Diables, was prompted by a note from Robert Watts at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre, who pointed out that the volcano remains quiet, though with noteworthy seismicity. He also provided clarifications regarding our geologic summary on the Morne aux Diables volcanic complex. Since this is our first report on this volcano and we have had comparatively few on any volcano on this island, we begin this report with a background section on volcanoes located on the island of Dominica. Recent seismicity is discussed in the section on Earthquakes.

Background. Morne aux Diables is the northernmost active volcanic center of the nine centers that exist on the island of Dominica (Lindsay and others, 2005) (figure 1). From N to S, generally, these nine centers are Morne aux Diables, Morne Diablotins, Morne Trois Pitons, Wotten Waven caldera, Valley of Desolation, Grande Soufrière Hills, Morne Watt, Morne Anglais, and Morne Plat Pays (table 1 shows the locations and ages of the latest eruptive rocks from each of these volcanic centers).

Figure 1. Geologic map of Dominica, West Indies, showing Morne aux Diables volcanic center at N end of island. Original map by Roobol and Smith (2004a); copied from Lindsey and others (2005).

Table 1. The most recent eruptive age dates ('ybp' = years before present) reported for Dominica volcanic centers. Rock age dates from Lindsay and others (2005).

Volcanic Center          Latitude, Longitude    Summit          Most recent        Evidence                                                elev. (m)    eruptive age datesMorne aux Diables        15.61°N, 61.43°W       861             46,740 ybp         block-and-ash flow depositMorne Diablotins         15.50°N, 61.36°W       1,430           22,200 ybp         Grand Savanne ignimbriteMorne Trois Pitons       15.37°N, 61.33°W       861             17,240 ybp         block-and-ash flow depositWotten Waven caldera     15.32°N, 61.34°W       -             1,020 ± 40 ybp       Micotrin(?) pumiceous pyroclastic flow depositValley of Desolation     -                      -             2,900 ± 370 ybp      woodGrand Soufriere Hills    15.30°N, 61.28°W       582           10,320 ± 40 ybpMorne Watt               15.31°N, 61.28°W       1,224         -- see Valley of Desolation in text --Morne Anglais            15.28°N, 61.30°W       1,123         26,400 ± 2,500 ybp   scoria fall(?)Morne Plat Pays          15.26°N, 61.34°W       940             450 ± 90 ybp       block-and-ash flow deposits

The only known historical eruptions on the island of Dominica were located in the Valley of Desolation in 1880 and 1997 (Siebert and others, 2010). Siebert and others (2010) also note evidence of recent eruptions from Morne Trois Pitons in 920 AD ± 50 yr, and from Morne Plat Pays in 1270 AD ± 50 yr.

The geology of geothermal areas explored in Dominica was described by Mandela Christian (2012). Previous Bulletin reports addressing Dominica, both discussing seismic increases without attendant eruptions, were issued on Morne Trois Pitons (the latest, SEAN 01:11) and Morne Plat Pays (the latest, BGVN 23:12).

Morne aux Diables complex. Watts sent to the Bulletin in September 2012 the following geological information concerning the Morne aux Diables complex, along with two photographs (figures 2 and 3). His work clarified patterns of seismicity, specifically volcano-tectonic earthquakes, which peaked in 2009 (Watts and others, 2012a, b). The Morne aux Diables complex is comprised of five intact andesitic crystal rich lava domes that form a central depression or 'pseudocrater'. Within the depression, a 'Cold Soufrière' is evident with hydrothermally altered rocks and many small bubbling pools. No eruptions are known from Morne aux Diables in historical time, although the volcano has a youthful appearance, and activity at flank domes likely continued into the late Pleistocene and Holocene (Lindsay and others, 2005). Currently, Ar40-Ar39 dating of blocks from each of the domes is being conducted by Watts.

Figure 2. Panoramic view from E Cabrits dome (see figure 1) looking E to the Morne aux Diables complex. Morne Aux Diables is on the left and Morne Destinee to the right. Courtesy of Richard Arculus and Robert Watts.
Figure 3. Photograph of the Morne aux Diables complex, taken from near Portsmith Town. The topographic high Morne Aux Diables is on the left; Morne Heritiers, center; and Morne Destinee, right. Courtesy of Robert Watts.

Watts also suggested that, for the geological summary for Morne Aux Diables, the "Volcano Type" should be changed to 'Lava-dome complex' from 'Stratovolcano.'

Watts, and Lindsay and others (2005), reported that in 2002 SeaBeam bathymetry highlighted a double peaked lava dome (known informally as Twin Peaks) on the sea floor a few kilometers off the northern coastline of Dominica. The summit of the higher dome (at 15.671°N, 61.476°W) was 153 m below sea level. This northern coastline terminating the N end of the Morne aux Diables complex forms a linear cliff that may represent a fault (see figure 1).

Earthquakes. The pattern of earthquakes beneath Morne aux Diables was described by Watts and others (2012a and 2012b). "Historically, the most common area of seismic activity has been in the SE sector of Dominica. However, in the N, there have been spurts in activity in 1841, 1893, 2000, and a particularly intense week-long burst of >500 earthquakes in 2003. Following 6 years of low activity, a near-continuous series of earthquake events has been recorded beneath the central area of Morne aux Diables since June 2009... The seismic swarm continues with variations in activity that are more consistent with volcano-tectonic (VT) earthquake activity than a tectonic swarm."

The VT earthquakes series reached a peak in December 2009, with many felt events experienced by villagers on the flanks of the volcano, but earthquake activity since then has gradually been diminishing. Since December 2010, VT earthquakes centered at the volcano have shown a gradual shallowing with time (a few approaching 1 km depth), indicating that they are related to a vertical re adjustment of the stresses below the volcano, most likely caused by magma movement. According to Watts and others (2012b), the seismic network increased from three stations to five stations in January 2010.

References. Christian, M.D., 2012, A geological outlook on geothermal explorations in Dominica, Geo-Heat Center, Oregon Institute of Technology, Quarterly Bulletin v. 31, no. 2, pp. 18-22 (http://www.geoheat.oit.edu/bulletin/bull31-2/art4.pdf).

Lindsay, J.M., Smith, A.L., Roobol, M.J., and Stasiuk, M.V., 2005, Dominica, p. 1-48 in: Lindsay, J.M., Robertson, R.E.A., Shepherd, J.B. and Ali, S. (eds), Volcanic Hazard Atlas of the Lesser Antilles, Seismic Research Centre, The University of the West Indies, Trinidad & Tobago, WI.

Roobol, M.J., and Smith, A.L., 2004a. Volcanology of Saba and St. Eustatius, northern Lesser Antilles, Amsterdam: Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Letters, 320 p.

Roobol, M.J., and Smith, A.L., 2004b, Geologic map of Dominica, West Indies (URL: http://www.caribbeanvolcanoes.com/dominica/content/dominicamap.pdf).

Siebert, L., Simkin, T., and Kimberly, P., 2010, Volcanoes of the world, Smithsonian Institution, University of California Press, Berkeley, 551p.

Watts, R.B., Robertson, R.E., Abraham, W., Cole, P., de Roche, T., Edwards, S., Higgins, M., Johnson, M., Joseph, E.P., Latchman, J., Lynch, L., Nisha, N., Ramsingh, C., and Stewart, R.C., 2012a , Elevated seismic activity beneath the slumbering Morne aux Diables volcano, Northern Dominica and the monitoring role of the Seismic Research Center, American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting 2012, San Francisco, CA (URL: http://fallmeeting.agu.org/2012/eposterss/eposter/v53e-2879/).

Watts, R., Robertson, R., Abraham, W., Cole, P., Corriette, D., de Roche, T., Edwards, S., Higgins, M., Issacs, N., Johnson, M., Joseph, E., Latchman, J., Lynch, L., Nisha, N., Phillip, B., Ramsingh, C., and Stewart, R., 2012b, Elevated seismic activity beneath the slumbering Morne aux Diables volcano, northern Dominica, poster on UWISRC web (URL: http://www.uwiseismic.com/Downloads/Dominica_activity_Poster_Watts.pdf).

Information Contacts: Robert B. Watts, The University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre, St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago, West Indies (URL: http://www.uwiseismic.com, Email: robwatts@uwiseismic.com).
Download or Cite this Report

Niuatahi is a giant, near circular caldera ~15 km in diameter, with a floor at a depth of about 2 km (Arculus, 2012); it was formerly called "Volcano O." A young cone (Motu Tahi) in the SE sector rises 730 m above the floor to a summit depth of 1,270 m. The volcano is in the rear arc of the Tonga system, ~40 km W of the chain of edifices that define the volcanic front of the Tonga Arc, and 25 km E of the spreading ridge of the Northeast Lau Spreading Center. The composition of the cone and surrounding floor is predominantly dacite. Towing with sea floor cameras over the cone and various parts of the caldera in 2012 resulted in the discovery of at least three sources of hydrothermal particle venting on the cone's summit and adjacent to the inner caldera walls. The Tonga Ministry of Lands, Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources named the volcano Niuatahi, which means 'sea' in Tongan, with the small cone of Motutahi meaning 'island in the sea.'

The Global Volcanism Program is not aware of any Holocene eruptions from Niuatahi. If this volcano has had large eruptions (VEI >= 4) prior to 10,000 years ago, information might be found on the Niuatahi page in the LaMEVE (Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions) database, a part of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Synonyms

Volcano O

Cones

Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Motutahi Cone

The Global Volcanism Program has no photographs available for Niuatahi.

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Arculus, R J, 2012. Crossing the cone at "Volcano O" (September 14, 2012). NOAA Ocean Explorer (URL: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12fire/logs/sept14/sept14.html).

Butterfield D, 2012. Chemistry and Ecology at Volcano O (September 15, 2012). NOAA Ocean Explorer (URL: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12fire/logs/sept15/sept15.html).

Keener P, Vailea A, 2012. In keeping with tradition (September 24, 2012). NOAA Ocean Explorer (URL: http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12fire/logs/sept24/sept24.html).

Resing J, Embley R, 2012. Submarine Ring of Fire-2012 (SRoF-12) Northeast Lau Basin Final Cruise Report. NOAA Ocean Explorer (http://oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/explorations/12fire/logs/summary/srof12-cruisereport-final.pdf).

Volcano Types

Caldera

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Affiliated Databases

WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.