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Report on Unnamed (Tonga) — May 2007


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 32, no. 5 (May 2007)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke.

Unnamed (Tonga) Bathymetric survey locates vent area and maps 2001 pumice deposits

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2007. Report on Unnamed (Tonga) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 32:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200705-243091



18.325°S, 174.365°W; summit elev. -40 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

An echo sounding depth survey of a recently active unnamed volcanic seamount (volcano number 0403-091) ~50 km NW of Vava'u was undertaken on 23 February 2007. The seamount is located within a roughly N-S segment of the submerged Tofua volcanic arc on a relatively broad plateau of less than 1,000 m depth, upon which five other seamounts rising to depths of 100 m are indicated on current bathymetric maps. One seamount indicated to shoal to depths of ~270 m, based on a reported spot depth recording in 1965, may correspond to this volcano.

No depth soundings were recorded at the previously described location of this volcano, with reported depths greater than 91 m. About 1.85 km (~1 nautical mile) to the NW, an area of shallow water (61-40 m) was mapped (figure 6). A relatively flat-topped seamount occurs with a maximum length of ~1.2 km (NW-SE) and 0.83 km width (NE-SW); much of the summit region is at or above 53 m below sea level. Two domal peaks cap the seamount and flank a depression on the E side. In profile, the seamount is steep-flanked, descending to water depths below 61 m over very short horizontal distances.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Bathymetric map and cross section of the unnamed Tongan seamount (volcano number 0403-091). NS: no depth sounding (ie. beyond depth-sounder range). Courtesy of Scott Bryan.

Two peaked areas on the seamount summit are inferred to represent pumice and other juvenile dacitic deposits from the 2001 eruption (BGVN 26:11 and 27:01). The broader domal area on the NW side would be consistent with maximum pumice deposition in response to NW-directed wind and ocean currents at the time of eruption and the dispersal of pumice rafts. Based on the summit profiles, at least 12 m of juvenile material erupted during the 2001 eruption may have accumulated on the summit. The prominent depression on the E side of the summit may therefore correspond to the vent area of the 2001 eruption, where crater floor depths are more than 61 m below sea level. The bathymetric survey indicates that the 2001 submarine dacitic explosive eruption occurred in shallow water depths (< 100 m).

General References. Bryan, S.E., 2007, Preliminary Report: Field investigation of Home Reef volcano and Unnamed Seamount 0403-091: Unpublished Report for Ministry of Lands, Survey, Natural Resources and Environment, Tonga, 9 p.

Bryan, S.E., Cook, A., Evans, J., Colls, P., Lawrence, M., Wells, M., Jell, J.S., Greig, A., and Leslie, R., 2004, Pumice rafting and faunal dispersion during 2001-2002 in the southwest Pacific: record of a dacitic submarine explosive eruption from Tonga: Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v. 227, p. 135-154.

Taylor, P.W., 2002, Volcanic hazards assessment following the September-October 2001 eruption of a previously unrecognised submarine volcano W of Vava'u, Kingdom of Tonga: Australian Volcanological Investigations, AVI Occasional Report No. 02/01, p. 1-7.

Geological Summary. A submarine volcano along the Tofua volcanic arc ~45 km NW of Vava'u Island was first observed in September 2001, ~35 km S of Fonualei and 60 km NE of Late volcano. The site of the eruption is at an approximate bathymetric depth of 300 m. T-phase waves were recorded on 27-28 September 2001, and on the 27th local fishermen observed an ash-rich eruption column that rose above the ocean surface. No eruptive activity was reported after the 28th, but water discoloration was documented the following month. In early November rafts and strandings of dacitic pumice were reported along the coasts of Kadavu and Viti Levu in Fiji. The depth of the summit of the submarine cone following the eruption was determined to be 40 m during a 2007 survey; the crater of the 2001 eruption was open to the E.

Information Contacts: Scott Bryan, School of Earth Sciences & Geography, Kingston Univ., Kingston Upon Thames, Surrey KT1 2EL, United Kingdom; Peter Colls, School of Physical Sciences, Univ. of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland 4072, Australia.