Saturday, December 05, 2015

Did the Siberian Traps Begin With an Ooze or a Bang?

The onset of flood volcanism in the north-western part of the Siberian Traps: Explosive volcanism versus effusive lava flows


Jerram et al


The Siberian Traps large igneous province was formed during the end-Permian, about 252 Ma ago. Basaltic melt was injected into the organic and salt rich Tunguska sedimentary basin, forming interconnected sill complexes and associated hydrothermal vent complexes. Thick deposits of basaltic tuff and tephra covered the paleosurface before the onset of flood volcanism, commonly taken as direct evidence for the explosive nature of the initial phase of volcanism. The field work in this study revealed that tuffs are virtually absent along a 150 km long transect along the Dyupkun lake and Kureika river, even though tuff is shown on available geological maps. Towards the south and west, the transition between the end-Permian sediments and the flood basalts is either characterized by thin (2–5 m) to no tephra deposits (Khantaika area), hyaloclastites and associated lake-deposited tephra (Kureika area), or massive tephra deposits from local eruptive centers (Severnaya area). The new results can be put into the context of other studies about volcanic tuff horizons in Siberia, and questions the notion of province-scale explosive volcanism in Siberia during the onset of flood volcanism. Moreover, the main thicknesses of explosive tuff deposits, up to 700 m, are located in the central and southern parts of the province where the LIP erupted through thick Cambrian salt and carbonate sequences. Since numerous phreatomagmatic pipes are present in these areas, we suggest a causal relationship between deep magma–sediment interactions, explosive eruptions and the resulting environmental stress that initiated the end-Permian mass extinction.

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