Mount Cayley - Geology - Structure

Structure

Mount Cayley is the largest and oldest volcanic complex of the Garibaldi Volcanic Belt. Like other stratovolcanoes, it is composed of layers of hardened lava, tephra, and volcanic ash. Eruptions are explosive in nature, involving viscous magma, glowing avalanches of hot volcanic ash and pyroclastic flows. The source magma of this rock is classified as acidic, having high to intermediate levels of silica (as in rhyolite, dacite, or andesite).

Stratovolcanoes are a common feature of subduction zones. The magma that forms them arises when water, which is trapped both in hydrated minerals and in the porous basalt rock of the upper oceanic crust, is released into mantle rock of the asthenosphere above the sinking oceanic slab. The release of water from hydrated minerals is termed "dewatering", and occurs at specific pressure/temperature conditions for specific minerals as the plate subducts to lower depths. The water freed from the subducting slab lowers the melting point of the overlying mantle rock, which then undergoes partial melting and rises due to its density relative to the surrounding mantle rock, and pools temporarily at the base of the lithosphere. The magma then rises through the crust, incorporating silica rich crustal rock, leading to a final intermediate composition. When the magma nears the surface it pools in a magma chamber under the volcano. The relatively low pressure of the magma allows water and other volatiles (CO2, S2-, Cl-) dissolved in the magma to begin to come out of solution, much like when a bottle of carbonated water is opened. Once a critical volume of magma and gas accumulates, the obstacle provided by the volcanic cone is overcome, leading to a sudden explosive eruption.

Read more about this topic:  Mount Cayley, Geology

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