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Fracture patterns at lava-ice contacts on Kokostick Butte, OR, and Mazama Ridge, Mount Rainier, WA: Implications for flow emplacement and cooling histories

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Author(s): Robert W. Lodge, David T. Lescinsky

Document Type:
Publisher: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Published Year: 2009
Volume: 185
Number: 4
Pages: 298 to 310
DOI Identifier: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.10.010
ISBN Identifier:
Keywords: lava–ice interaction cooling fractures sheet-like fracture spseudopillow fractures expansion fractures columnar joints Kokostick Butte Mount Rainier

Cooling lava commonly develop polygonal joints that form equant hexagonal columns. Such fractures are formed by thermal contraction resulting in an isotropic tensional stress regime. However, certain linear cooling fracture patterns observed at some lava–ice contacts do not appear to fit the model for formation of cooling fractures and columns because of their preferred orientations. These fracture types include sheet-like (ladder-like rectangular fracture pattern), intermediate (pseudo-aligned individual column-bounding fractures), and pseudopillow (straight to arcuate fractures with perpendicular secondary fractures caused by water infiltration) fractures that form the edges of multiple columns along a single linear fracture. Despite the relatively common occurrence of these types of fractures at lava–ice contacts, their significance and mode of formation have not been fully explored. This study investigates the stress regimes responsible for producing these unique fractures and their significance for interpreting cooling histories at lava–ice contacts.

Data was collected at Kokostick Butte dacite flow at South Sister, OR, and Mazama Ridge andesite flow at Mount Rainier, WA. Both of these lava flows have been interpreted as being emplaced into contact with ice and linear fracture types have been observed on their ice-contacted margins. Two different mechanisms are proposed for the formation of linear fracture networks. One possible mechanism for the formation of linear fracture patterns is marginal bulging. Melting of confining ice walls will create voids into which flowing lava can deform resulting in margin-parallel tension causing margin-perpendicular fractures. If viewed from the ice-wall, these fractures would be steeply dipping, linear fractures. Another possible mechanism for the formation of linear fracture types is gravitational settling. Pure shear during compression and settling can result in a tensional environment with similar consequences as marginal inflation. In addition to this, horizontally propagating cooling fractures will be directly influenced by viscous strain caused by the settling of the flow. This would cause preferential opening of fractures horizontally, resulting in vertically oriented fractures.

It is important to note that the proposed model for the formation of linear fractures is dependent on contact with and confinement by glacial ice. The influence of flow or movement on cooling fracture patterns has not been extensively discussed in previous modeling of cooling fractures. Rapid cooling of lava by the interaction with water and ice will increase the ability to the capture and preserve perturbations in the stress regime.

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Suggested Citations:
In Text Citation:
Lodge and Lescinsky (2009) or (Lodge and Lescinsky, 2009)

References Citation:
Lodge, R.W. and D.T. Lescinsky, 2009, Fracture patterns at lava-ice contacts on Kokostick Butte, OR, and Mazama Ridge, Mount Rainier, WA: Implications for flow emplacement and cooling histories: Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, Vol. 185, No. 4, pp. 298-310, doi: 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2008.10.010.