Identifying the Origins of Volcanic Ash Deposits Using Their Chemical and Physical Compositions

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Soto, Emmanuel
Volcano; Chile; Ash; Geology; Geochemistry; Petrology; Volcanology
artifact description
Recent ocean sediments collected offshore Chile by Ocean Drilling Program Leg 202 contained layers of volcanic ash of unknown origin. These deposits may have originated from sources in the Southern Volcanic Zone (SVZ) within the Andean Volcanic Belt to the east, or from explosive volcanoes in the southwestern Pacific transported by westerly prevailing winds. In this study, mineral and glass textures and compositions of Leg 202 ashes were evaluated to try to determine the sources of the ash layers. Ash fragments were imaged and analyzed for major elements using an SEM with X-Ray detector and for trace elements using LA-ICPMS. Results show that the ash samples are rhyolitic and that they formed in a subduction zone setting or a continental margin. The ash samples have distinct physical and geochemical features that can be used in the future to identify their source(s) by comparison to databases of Pleistocene Recent explosive volcanic eruptions.