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Ice-melt collapse pits and associated features in the 1991 lahar deposits of Volcán Hudson, Chile: criteria to distinguish eruption-induced glacier melt.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date1995
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Journal number5
Volume57
Number of pages10
Pages293-302
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In subaerial volcaniclastic sequences, structures formed by ice blocks can provide information about a volcano's history of lahar generation by glacier melt. At Volcán Hudson in Chile, catastrophic lahars were initiated by eruption-induced melting of glacier ice in August and October 1991. They transported large ice blocks 50?km down the Rio de los Huemules valley to the sea. Large current crescents with lee-side lenses were formed where ice blocks were deposited during waning stages of the flood. When stranded blocks of ice melted, they left cone-shaped and ring-shaped heaps of ice-rafted debris on the sediment surface. Several hundred ice blocks were completely buried within the aggrading lahar sediment, and when these melted circular collapse pits formed in the sediment. Collapse types included subsided coherent blocks of sediment bounded by an outward-dipping ring-fracture, trapdoor structures with horseshoe-shaped fractures, downsag pits with centroclinal dips locally up to 60°, pits with peripheral graben and crevasses, piecemeal (highly fragmented) collapse structures and funnel-shaped pits containing disaggregated sediment. A sequence of progressive collapse is inferred in which initial downsag and subsidence on an outward-dipping ring fracture produces a small diameter pit. This is followed by widening of the pit by progressive development of concentric ring fractures and downsag outside the early formed pit, and by collapse of overhanging pit walls to produce vertical to inward-dipping walls and aprons of collapse debris on the pit floor. The various structures have potential for preservation even in regions prone to high rainfall and flooding, and they can be used to indicate that former lahars contained abundant blocks of ice.