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Durham University

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Publication details for Dr Thomas Phillips

Phillips, Thomas B. & Magee, Craig (2020). Structural controls on the location, geometry and longevity of an intraplate volcanic system: the Tuatara Volcanic Field, Great South Basin, New Zealand. Journal of the Geological Society 177(5): 1039-1056.

Author(s) from Durham


Intraplate volcanism is widely distributed across the continents, but the controls on the 3D geometry and longevity of individual volcanic systems remain poorly understood. Geophysical data provide insights into magma plumbing systems, but, as a result of the relatively low resolution of these techniques, it is difficult to evaluate how magma transits highly heterogeneous continental interiors. We use borehole-constrained 2D seismic reflection data to characterize the 3D geometry of the Tuatara Volcanic Field located offshore New Zealand's South Island and investigate its relationship with the pre-existing structure. This c. 270 km2 field is dominated by a dome-shaped lava edifice, surrounded and overlain by c. 69 volcanoes and >70 sills emplaced over 40 myr from the Late Cretaceous to Early Eocene (c. 85–45 Ma). The Tuatara Volcanic Field is located above a basement terrane boundary represented by the Livingstone Fault; the recently active Auckland Volcanic Field is similarly located along-strike on North Island. We suggest that the Livingstone Fault controlled the location of the Tuatara Volcanic Field by producing relief at the base of the lithosphere, thereby focussing lithospheric detachment over c. 40 myr, and provided a pathway that facilitated the ascent of magma. We highlight how observations from ancient intraplate volcanic systems may inform our understanding of active intraplate volcanic systems, including the Auckland Volcanic Field.