Ultra-distal tephra deposits from super-eruptions: examples from Toba, Indonesia and Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand
Matthews, N. E., Smith, V. C., Costa, A., Durant, A. J., Pyle, D. M. and Pearce, N. J. G. (2012) Ultra-distal tephra deposits from super-eruptions: examples from Toba, Indonesia and Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Quaternary International, 258. pp. 54-79. ISSN 1040-6182
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1016/j.quaint.2011.07.010
Voluminous rhyolitic eruptions from Toba, Indonesia, and Taupo Volcanic Zone (TVZ), New Zealand, have dispersed volcanic ash over vast areas in the late Quaternary. The ~74 ka Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) eruption deposited ash over the Bay of Bengal and the Indian subcontinent to the west. The ~340 ka Whakamaru eruption (TVZ) deposited the widespread Rangitawa Tephra, dominantly to the southeast (in addition to occurrences northwest of vent), extending across the landmass of New Zealand, and the South Pacific Ocean and Tasman Sea, with distal terrestrial exposures on the Chatham Islands. These super-eruptions involved ~2500 km^3 and ~1500 km3 of magma (dense-rock equivalent; DRE), respectively. Ultra-distal terrestrial exposures of YTT at two localities in India, Middle Son Valley, Madhya Pradesh, and Jurreru River Valley, Andhra Pradesh, at distances of >2000 km from the source caldera, show a basal ‘primary’ ashfall unit ~4 cm thick, although deposits containing reworked ash are up to ~3 m in total thickness. Exposures of Rangitawa Tephra on the Chatham Islands, >900 km from the source caldera, are ~15-30 cm thick. At more proximal localities (~200 km from source), Rangitawa Tephra is ~55-70 cm thick and characterized by a crystal-rich basal layer and normal grading. Both distal tephra deposits are characterized by very-fine ash (with high PM10 fractions) and are crystal-poor. Glass chemistry, stratigraphy and grain-size data for these distal tephra deposits are presented with comparisons of their correlation, dispersal and preservation. Using field observations, ash transport and deposition were modeled for both eruptions using a semi-analytical model (HAZMAP), with assumptions concerning average wind direction and strength during eruption, column shape and vent size. Model outputs provide new insights into eruption dynamics and better estimates of eruption volumes associ- ated with tephra fallout. Modeling based on observed YTT distal tephra thicknesses indicate a relatively low (<40 km high), very turbulent eruption column, consistent with deposition from a co-ignimbrite cloud extending over a broad region. Similarly, the Whakamaru eruption was modeled as producing a predominantly Plinian column (~45 km high), with dispersal to the southeast by strong prevailing winds. Significant ash fallout of the main dispersal direction, to the northwest of source, cannot be replicated in this modeling. The widespread dispersal of large volumes of fine ash from both eruptions may have had global environmental consequences, acutely affecting areas up to thousands of kilometers from vent.