Report on Monowai (New Zealand) — June 2012
Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 37, no. 6 (June 2012)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.
Monowai (New Zealand) Eruption causes summit depth change of 18.8 m over 14 days
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2012. Report on Monowai (New Zealand) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 37:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201206-242050
25.887°S, 177.188°W; summit elev. -132 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Monowai volcano, located 1,000 km NE of New Zealand's North Island, is one of the most active submarine volcanoes identified in the Tonga-Kermadec arc, a 2,500-km-long chain of submarine volcanoes stretching from New Zealand to just N of Tonga (figure 22). Bradley Scott, a volcanologist at New Zealand's GNS Science, reported that seismic activity recorded by GeoNet on the seismograph at Rarotonga, Cook Islands, had shown there were several days of eruptive activity at Monowai starting on 3 August 2012. A large pumice raft, first spotted on 19 July 2012, was suspected to have a source in Monowai; however, that was later discounted (see a report on Havre seamount in a subsequent issue). The most recent previous eruptions of Monowai began on 8 February 2008 and 14 May 2011.
All previous Bulletin reports on Monowai, including most of the latest one in 2008 (BGVN 33:03), describe eruptive activity as measured remotely by the Polynesian Seismic Network (Réseau Sismique Polynésien, or RSP). In contrast, this report will emphasize recent oceanographic surveys conducted over the volcanic complex that help define the features of the area.
Background. According to a recent publication by Leybourne and others (2010), the MVC comprises a large, elongate caldera (7.9 x 5.7 km; 35 km2; floor depth = 1,590 m) to the NE, formed within an older caldera (84 km2). Associated is a large active stratovolcano to the SW, which rises to within ~100 m of the sea surface. Mafic rocks dominate MVC, with only rare andesites. Plume mapping shows at least four hydrothermal systems with venting from the summit of Monowai cone and its N flank. Monowai caldera has a major hydrothermal vent system associated with the SW wall of the caldera (figure 22).
Wright and others (2008) wrote that "The first recorded eruptions at Monowai date from between 1877 and 1928 (Mastin and Witter, 2000), and subsequently reported as a shoal in 1944 (Royal Australian Navy, written communication, 1944). More recent eruptions were first observed by maritime aircraft patrols in October 1977 (Davey, 1980). A bathymetric survey undertaken in July, 1978, and towed-sonar array surveys, undertaken in March and July 1978 and March, April, and June 1979, recorded periods of volcanic activity that included discolored water and vigorous gas emissions at the sea surface (Davey, 1980). A single-beam bathymetric survey recorded a conical edifice with a summit shoal of 117 m (velocity uncorrected) in September 1978 (Davey, 1980). A reconnaissance multibeam survey in 1986 by R/V Thomas Washington identified a shoal at a depth of 115 ± 5 m (Scripps Institute of Oceanography, unpublished data, 1986)."
Bathymetry. Multibeam surveys by RV Sonne in 1998 (SO-135 voyage) and RV Tangaroa in 2004 showed the Monowai stratovolcano cone (10-12 km in diameter, rising 965 m from the 1,100-m isobath) to be the largest of a number of postcollapse cones sited around the rim of the newly discovered Monowai caldera (part of the larger volcanic complex; Graham and others, 2008). The elongate caldera was 11 x 8.5 km in size and showed evidence of at least two phases of caldera formation. Monowai cone forms a relatively simple edifice on the S caldera rim, with near constant 13-18° slopes that were interpreted by the investigators of these cruises as angles of repose of volcaniclastic deposits generated at the summit. Prominent radial dikes and small aligned vents protruded up to 50 m above the edifice slopes, especially on the N and W flanks. The S flank showed evidence of repeated sector collapse. A single video-grab transect during the 1998 RV Sonne survey across the then-shallowest vent showed that it comprised coarse scoriaceous blocks with a lapilli sand matrix. Sampled rocks from Monowai cone comprise highly vesicular, plagioclase-clinopyroxene basalts (Brothers and others, 1980; Haase and othres, 2002).
Table 2 shows the various depths of the summit of the Monowai cone as measured by multiple bathymetyric surveys conducted since 1978. Figures 23 and 24 show regions of bathymetric changes.
|Date||Summit depth, m||Reference|
|Sep 1978||117||Davey (1980)|
|Jun 1979||less than 120||Brothers and others (1980)|
|1986||~120||Wright and others (2008)|
|1998||42 ± 3||Wright and others (2008)|
|2004||132 ± 2||Wright and others (2008)|
|2007||less than 69||Chadwick and others (2008)|
|May/Jun 2011||60.1||Watts and others (2012)|
Mid-May to early June 2011. Watts and others (2012) reported the results of two recent bathymetric surveys of MVC conducted within a period of 14 days (14 May and 1-2 June 2011). They found marked differences in bathymetry between the surveys. New growth structures, probably due to new lava cones and debris flows, caused decreases in depth of up to 71.9 m, while collapse of the volcano summit region caused increases in depth of up to 18.8 m.
Hydro-acoustic T-wave data revealed a 5-day-long swarm of seismic events with unusually high amplitude between the two 2011 surveys, which link the depth changes to explosive activity (figures MON4, MON5, and MON6). [Note: According to NOAA (Chadwick, 2001), "A 'T-phase' or 'T-wave' is an acoustic phase from an earthquake that travels through the ocean. The 'T' stands for 'tertiary', as in: P-waves are 'primary', S-waves are 'secondary', and T-waves are 'tertiary', because they travel the slowest and so arrive third. Basically, when an earthquake occurs in the earth's crust under the ocean, the usual crustal phases are generated (P and S waves), but in addition part of the energy goes into the ocean as acoustic energy, and that is the T-wave. Not all earthquakes generate T-waves (since they need to be near water)...T-waves are typically recorded by hydrophones, but on some islands seismometers sometimes record T-wave signals that have been converted to crustal phases when they hit the island."]
References. Brothers, R.N., Heming, R.F., Hawke, M.M., and Davey, F.J., 1980, Tholeiitic basalt from the Monowai seamount, Tonga-Kermadec ridge, New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 23, no. 4, p. 537-539.
Chadwick, W.W., Jr., 2001, What is a T-phase?, URL: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents/geology/tphase.html; posted 9 November 2001, accessed 14 August 2012.
Chadwick, W.W., Jr., Wright, I.C., Schwarz-Schampera, U., Hyvernaud O., Reymond, D., and de Ronde, C.E.J., 2008, Cyclic eruptions and sector collapses at Monowai submarine volcano, Kermadec arc: 1998-2007, GeochemistryGeophysicsGeosystemsG3, v. 9, p. 1-17 (DOI: 10.1029/2008GC002113).
Chrisp, J.A., 1984, Rates of magma emplacement and volcanic output, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, v. 20, pp. 177-211.
Davey, F.J., 1980, The Monowai seamount: An active submarine volcanic centre on the Tonga-Kermadec ridge (note), New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics, v. 23, no. 4, p. 533-536.
Haase, K.M., Worthington, T.J., Stoffers, P., G-Schonberg, D., and Wright, I., 2002, Mantle dynamics, element recycling, and magma genesis beneath the Kermadec Arc-Havre Trough, GeochemistryGeophysicsGeosystemsG3, v. 3, no. 11. p. 1071 (DOI: 10.1029/2002GC000335).
Leybourne, M.I., de Ronde, C.E.J., Baker, E.T., Faure, K., Walker, S.L., Resing, J., and Massoth, G.J., 2010, Submarine magmatic-hydrothermal systems at the Monowai Volcanic Centre, Kermadec Arc, Goldschmidt Conference Abstracts 2010, Abstract A587.
Sparks, R.S.J., Young, S.R., Barclay, J., Calder, E.S., Cole, P., Darroux, B., Davies, M.A., Druitt, T.H., Harford, C., Herd, R., James, M., Lejeune, A.M., Loughlin, S., Norton, G., Skerrit, G., Stasiuk, M.V., Stevens, N.S., Toothill, J., Wadge, G., and Watts, R., 1998, Magma production and growth of the lava dome of the Soufriére Hills volcano, Montserrat, West Indies: November 1995 to December 1997, Geophysical Research Letters, v. 25, no. 18, pp. 3421-3424 (DOI: 10.1029/98GL00639).
Staudigel, H., Hart, S.R., Pile, A., Bailey, B.E., Baker, E.T., Brooke, S., Connelly, D.P., Haucke, L., German, C.R., Hudson, I., Jones, D., Koppers, A.A.P., Konter, J., Lee, R., Pietsch, T.W., Tebo, B.M., Templeton, A.S., Zierenberg, R., and Young, C.M., 2006, Vailulu'u Seamount, Samoa: Life and death of an active submarine volcano, Procedures of the National Academy of Science, USA, v. 103, pp. 6448-6453 (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0600830103).
Watts, A.B., Sandwell, D.T., Smith, W.H.F., and Wessel, P., 2006, Global gravity, bathymetry, and the distribution of submarine volcanism through space and time, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 111 (DOI: 10.1029/2005JB004083).
Watts, A.B., Peirce, C., Grevemeyer, I., Paulatto, M., Stratford, W., Bassett, D., Hunter, J.A., Kalnins, L.M., and de Ronde, C.E.J., 2012 (13 May), Rapid rates of growth and collapse of Monowai submarine volcano in the Kermadec Arc, Nature Geoscience, v. 5, p. 510-515 (DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1473).
Wright I.C., Chadwick, W.W., Jr, de Ronde, C.E.J., Reymond, D., Hyvernaud, O., Gennerich, H., Stoffers, P., Mackay, K., Dunkin, M.A., and Bannister, S.C., 2008, Collapse and reconstruction of Monowai submarine volcano, Kermadec arc, 1998-2004, Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 113, p. 1-13 (DOI: 10.1029/2007JB005138).
Geological Summary. Monowai, also known as Orion seamount, is a basaltic stratovolcano that rises from a depth of about 1,500 to within 100 m of the ocean surface about halfway between the Kermadec and Tonga island groups, at the southern end of the Tonga Ridge. Small parasitic cones occur on the N and W flanks, and an 8.5 x 11 km submarine caldera with a depth of more than 1,500 m lies to the NNE. Numerous eruptions have been identified using submarine acoustic signals since it was first recognized as a volcano in 1977. A shoal that had been reported in 1944 may have been a pumice raft or water disturbance due to degassing. Surface observations have included water discoloration, vigorous gas bubbling, and areas of upwelling water, sometimes accompanied by rumbling noises. It was named for one of the New Zealand Navy bathymetric survey ships that documented its morphology.
Information Contacts: Bradley J. Scott, GNS Science, Wainakel Research Centre, Taupo, New Zealand (URL: http://www.gns.cn.nz); GeoNet, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz)