Towards the reconstruction of the shallow plumbing system of the Barombi Mbo Maar (Cameroon) Implications for diatreme growth processes of a polygenetic maar volcano

By CHAKO TCHAMABE Boris1, Takeshi Ohba2, Gabor Kereszturi3, Karoly Nemeth, Aka Festus Tongwa, Dieudone Youmen, Isabel Meza, Yasuo Miyabuchi, Seigo Ooki, Greg Zinkeng Tanyileke4, Hell Joseph Victor

1. Universidad Autonoma de Mexico 2. Tokai University, Japan 3. Volcanic Risk Solutions, Massey University, New Zealand 4. Institute of Geological and Mining Research (IRGM)

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Understanding the mechanisms involved in the formation of maars and their diatreme growth processes has been a subject of contention. While there is no direct evidence of the presence of diatremes beneath most of the young maars, their existence is inferred based on the amount and type of country rocks excavated at different depths and deposited as pyroclastic ejecta around their craters. Properly tracing fragmented country rocks in ejecta to interpret their depths of origin and thus the depths of phreatomagmatic explosions require good and detailed information on the substrate geology that is generally lacking at many maars. As an alternative, this paper explores the role of juvenile components in deposits of a maar for understanding the cratering and growth of diatremes during maar-forming eruptions. Based on field investigations, pyroclast distribution, componentry and grain morphology examinations this study reports on the eruptive mechanisms that led to the formation of the Barombi Mbo Maar (BMM), a polygenetic maar volcano in Cameroon. The BMM consists of three diatremes that formed during distinct eruptive events and coalesced to produce an “amalgamated maar–diatreme”. Two end-member types of eruption styles from the “dry” magmatic to the “wet” phreatomagmatic explosions governed the formation of the maar. In total, a minimum of ~ 0.0658 km3 of magma (Dense Rock Equivalent corrected) was ejected based on calculation by applying interpolation techniques on digital elevation models obtained from SRTM30m data corrected by rock textural data collected from the field. The distribution of juvenile clasts throughout the stratigraphic sequence suggests a complex subsurface eruptive process, which originated probably within the uppermost part of the diatreme. From the distribution and morphology of juvenile clasts in the deposits, it is inferred that cratering and country rock excavation during the growth of each of the small diatremes developed mainly from shallow level explosions, sometimes with lateral and vertical variations in the position of the explosion loci. A prospective juvenile-based conceptual model is proposed for the formation of the BMM. The model suggests that, during maar-forming eruptions, explosions taking place at a deeper position might entrain extensive amount of lithics from the mostly lithic-dominated upper crater infill to deposit juvenile-poor (< 10 vol.%) tephra beds. Layers with a juvenile content of 10–60 vol.%, for example, might result from deep to shallow-seated explosions, with a common entrainment of lithics from the crater infill region, and with much of the remobilized tephra being transported to the ejecta ring sequence. In contrast, explosions occurring at shallower positions will produce mainly juvenile-rich beds (juvenile > 90 vol.%).

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Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • CHAKO TCHAMABE Boris; Takeshi Ohba; Gabor Kereszturi; Karoly Nemeth; Aka Festus Tongwa; Dieudone Youmen; Isabel Meza; Yasuo Miyabuchi; Seigo Ooki; Greg Zinkeng Tanyileke; Hell Joseph Victor (2015), "Towards the reconstruction of the shallow plumbing system of the Barombi Mbo Maar (Cameroon) Implications for diatreme growth processes of a polygenetic maar volcano,"

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