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Evolution of the Lord Howe Volcano

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posted on 2022-10-11, 00:22 authored by David J. Tabrett

Lord Howe Island (31° 33°S, 159° 05' E), located on the western edge of the Lord Howe Rise, is the remnant of a Miocene (McDougall et al, 1981), subaerial shield volcano at the southern end of the Lord Howe Seamount chain. Lavas in the north dip 5° to the northwest and are cut by sub vertical dykes that strike to the southeast. The lavas in the southern part of the island dip at approximately 3° to the south. The petrography and magnetic fabric suggests the magma in the dykes in the north flowed at a low angle to the northwest. The vent, as inferred from the strike of the dykes, and the dips of the lavas, is located in the southern part of the island to the northeast of Mt Lidgbird. At the maximum size, the Lord Howe Volcano had an average radius of 18km at the base some 2km below sea-level and had a subaerial base radius of approximately 8km and reached an elevation of approximately 1km above sea-level. The volcano had a maximum volume of approximately 1000km3, with both the subaqueous pillow cone and the subaerial shield each having a volume of about 65km3 each. The volcanogenic sediment deposited on the flanks of the volcano had a volume of approximately 870km3 that represents a volume of erupted of approximately 400km3, assuming basalt weathers to twice the volume of the volcanogenic sediments (Sample and Karig, 1982). The difference in volume between the basalt that formed the volcanogenic sediments, pillow and shield cones and the total volume of the volcano is due to the constant erosion and eruption of material over the time the volcano was active (approximately 1 Ma). Estimates of eruption rates and from age constraints of the Lord Howe Basalts it is inferred that the volcano took approximately 0.1Ma to construct the pillow cone, and almost 1Ma to construct the subaerial shield cone. Significant erosion has resulted in the present-day island representing approximately 1 % of the volume of the original subaeial shield. Coastal erosion has occurred at more than 11cm per Ma, while subaerial erosion at 20m per Ma. Geochemically the lavas and dykes (Mg# ~70, D.I. ~32) from Lord Howe Island are similar. Tholeiitic and transitional basalts are dominant with some samples from the youngest rocks in the south being more alkaline. Clinopyroxene compositions of En 46:Fs11:Wo44 are calcic augites and are present as phenocrysts in both the lavas, dykes and an ankaramite sample. The anakaramite contains cumulates of olivine (Fo80) and clinopyroxene. The basalts are classified as continental, intra-plate basalts and are comparable to the ocean island basaltic signatures of eastern Australia.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Introduction and regional setting -- Chapter 2. The structure and stratigraphy of the exposed parts of the Lord Howe Island Volcano -- Chapter 3. The petrography, mineralogy and geochemistry of Lord Howe Island basaltic rocks -- Chapter 4. Conclusions -- References -- Appendices


A thesis is submitted to Macquarie University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor of Science with Honours.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis bachelor honours


Thesis (bachelor honours), Macquarie University, Faculty of Science and Engineering, 1999

Department, Centre or School

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

R. H. Flood

Additional Supervisor 1

S. Y. O'Reilly


Copyright: The Author Copyright disclaimer:




Lord Howe Island Australia


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