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A model for submarine rhyolite dome growth: Ponza Island

(central Italy)
Donatella DeRita
*
, Guido Giordano, Alessandro Cecili
Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche, Universita di Roma TRE, L.go S. Leonardo Murialdo 1, 00146, Roma, Italy
Received 1 December 1999; accepted 6 November 2000
Abstract
The Late Pliocene rhyolitic submarine volcanic rocks of Ponza island (Italy) can be interpreted as the subaqueous equivalent
of subaerial dome complexes in terms of geometry and structure. Three coalescing domes of about 1 km radius and aligned
along a NE-trending regional fracture have been identied. The main difference between subaqueous and subaerial lava domes
is that in a subaqueous environment, lava is likely to undergo pervasive hyaloclastic brecciation, so that domes are mainly
composed of variously brecciated, in situ to clast-rotated hyaloclastite rather than coherent lava. We suggest that the shape and
rheologic behaviour through time of submarine domes are closely controlled by the development and thickness of the parti-
culate hyaloclastic carapace, which assumes the role of the solid crust of domes in subaerial environment. The thickness of the
hyaloclastic carapace at Ponza is greater than 150 m and emplaced during several different pulses (or eruptions). In the earliest
pulses, lava is directly extruded on the seaoor and produces hyaloclastite, the degree of brecciation of which decreases inward
to the coherent ow-banded rhyolite lava of the feeder dike. Once the hyaloclastic carapace is formed, further pulses of magma,
combined with increase in height of the dome result in a local stress pattern characterised by a vertical s
1
@s
2
s
3
, producing
concentric and radial fractures and normal faults. The newly rising magma, shielded by the hyaloclastic carapace, can intrude
along these fault and fracture systems and invade previously emplaced but still water-saturated hyaloclastite. This produces the
characteristic pattern of dikes observed at Ponza as a series of concentric dikes that are progressively less inclined outward with
respect to the dome centre. These late stage dikes in turn produce hyaloclastite at their margins, but generally less fragmented
than the embedding hyaloclastite, probably because the ascending magma is better shielded from direct contact with sea water.
Periodic gravity collapses of the dome maintain the equilibrium between height and radius of the dome, as suggested at Ponza
by the presence of mass ow deposits and the development of small topographic basins on top of the domes, probably related to
debris removal. Some of these topographic depressions host subaqueous pyroclastic deposits, suggesting that, if due to vertical
growth of the dome, water depth above the dome becomes shallower, hydromagmatic explosions may occur. q 2001 Elsevier
Science B.V. All rights reserved.
1. Introduction
Subaerial lava domes are known to show a variety
of morphologies and to result from a variety of
emplacement mechanisms (Moore et al., 1981; Huppert
et al., 1982; Swanson et al., 1987; Iverson, 1989; Blake,
1990; Grifths and Fink 1993; Fink and Bridges, 1995).
Natural observation and analogue modelling have
shown that the main parameters controlling shape and
style of emplacement are the eruption rate and the
rheology of the magma. Despite the large number of
studies on dome emplacement, only a few have been
performed on submarine domes (Pichler, 1965;
Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239
0377-0273/01/$ - see front matter q 2001 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
PII: S0377-0273(00)00295-X
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* Corresponding author.
E-mail address: derita@uniroma3.it (D. DeRita).
Carmassi et al., 1983; Yamagishi, 1987; Cas et al.,
1990), because direct observation of active submarine
volcanism is difcult. Models for the emplacement of
lava in subaqueous environments involve quench frag-
mentation of lava at the contact with water, forming a
hyaloclastic carapace that protects the inner core of the
lava from further magmawater interaction (Pichler,
1965; Carmassi et al., 1983; Cas et al., 1990).
Ponza island provides an excellent case study for
submarine volcanism as it offers continuous outcrops
of Late Pliocene rhyolite coherent dikes and associated
hyaloclastites, where most of the original facies rela-
tionships are preserved with only minor disturbance by
later extensional tectonics. However, facies relation-
ships in the eld are complex and therefore they have
been interpreted alternatively as feeder dike hyaloclas-
tite complexes (Pichler, 1965; Carmassi et al., 1983) or
as extensive hyaloclastic lava ows later intruded by
dikes (Barberi et al., 1967; Scutter et al., 1998). The
main aim of this paper is to investigate the structure of
the volcanic rocks of Ponza and the complex genetic
relationships between hyaloclastite and dikes. In this
study we present new stratigraphic, geomorphologic
and structural data that we believe indicate the forma-
tion and evolution of a submarine rhyolitic dome
complex at Ponza, as a group of at least three closely
spaced, approx. 1 km in radius, coalescing domes.
Other conclusions of this study are that hyaloclastite
and dikes are emplaced during pulsating eruptive
episodes, and that the development of a hyaloclastite
carapace up to a few hundreds of metres thick plays a
major role in the kinematic and morphologic evolution
of subaqueous domes. Radial and tangential exten-
sional faults and fractures associated with dikes devel-
oped within the fragmental, water saturated and
unconsolidated hyaloclastic carapace, probably related
to magma intrusion from beneath (vertical s
1
). The
particulate and unconsolidated nature of the hyaloclas-
tic carapace also results in the frequent triggering of
destructive processes such as mass wasting due to
sector collapses and slides, alternating with construc-
tive processes such as dikes and cryptodome intrusion,
and hyaloclastite formation. This new interpretation
for the Ponza volcanism is more consistent, compared
to previous interpretations, with the presence of coeval
rhyolitic volcanism occurring along the Tyrrhenian
sea margin, where other subaerial rhyolitic dome
complexes developed that are similar in size and
magma chemistry to Ponza (Tolfa dome complex,
Ceriti-Manziate dome complex; Serri, 1990; Barberi
et al., 1994; De Rita et al., 1994, 1997).
In the rst section of the paper we present newdata on
the stratigraphic relationships seen in the eld as
description of single facies is already present in the
literature (e.g. Scutter et al., 1998). We then present
geomorphologic and structural data associated with the
intrusion of the many dikes present on the island, and we
nally discuss the model of emplacement for submarine
rhyolitic domes at Ponza, and also compare the present
interpretation with those previously published.
2. Previous work on the geology of Ponza island
The island of Ponza is part of the Pontine Archi-
pelago, which consists of four principal islands (Ponza,
Palmarola, Zannone and Ventotene; Fig. 1) that form
a 30-km chain parallel to the Tyrrhenian coast of Italy,
between Rome and Naples. The northern group of
islands, comprising Ponza, Zannone and Palmarola,
is the oldest (Late Pliocene). These islands are char-
acterised by predominantly Late Pliocene high-K,
calc-alkaline rhyolite lavas (Conte and Savelli,
1994) that issued from submarine vents. After an
interval of volcanic activity, the island emerged
during the Early Pleistocene, and shoshonitic volcanic
rocks were emplaced in a subaerial environment over-
lying a marine erosion surface presently exposed at
7080 m a.s.l. (trachyte lava and pyroclastic deposits
dated at 1.1 Ma by Barberi et al. (1967) and at 1.3 Ma
by Bellucci et al. (1997)). The three islands of Ponza,
Palmarola and Zannone represent an emergent part of
the continental Tyrrhenian shelf. The volcanic rocks
lie on the continental platform (Savelli, 1938), which
is composed mainly of MiocenePliocene thrust units
affected by younger extensional tectonics related to
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 222
Fig. 1. Simplied geological map draped on the 3-D shaded relief and uvial network of Ponza island. Localities pictured in the following
gures are indicated on this map. The map illustrates the annular distribution of ridges held up by dikes (solid lines, dashed where inferred),
alternated with valleys cut inside hyaloclastite around the core of the three centres of Mt Pagliaro, Cala dell'Acqua and Cala Fontana. The cross
sections illustrate the fan-like arrangement of dikes.
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 223
the PliocenePleistocene evolution of the Tyrrhenian
basin (Zitellini et al., 1984). The islands are at the
boundary between the northern and southern parts of
the Tyrrhenian sea, which are characterised by differ-
ent structural and volcanic evolution (Boriani et al.,
1989; Pialli et al., 1991; Tozzi et al., 1991). Three
main tectonic trends, mainly extensional, NWSE,
NESW and EW affect the Pontinian archipelago
(De Rita et al., 1986; Bellucci et al., 1997).
Ponza is the largest of the Pontinian islands. It
mainly consists of submarine volcanic rocks (Pichler,
1965; Carmassi et al., 1983; Scutter et al., 1998)
exposed largely in the central and northern parts of
the island (Fig. 1). Submarine volcanic rocks of Ponza
are the result of hyaloclastic fragmentation that
occurred during extrusion of silicic lavas when
magma and sea water come in contact (Pichler,
1965). The submarine volcanic rocks are rhyolitic in
composition (Pichler, 1965; Barberi et al., 1967;
Conte and Savelli, 1994). The most common rocks
are hyaloclastites and coherent dikes. The only avail-
able K/Ar ages for hyaloclastite and dikes suggested
the occurrence of two discrete volcanic events dated
at 4.7 and 1.9 Ma (Barberi et al., 1967). However, this
interpretation has been refuted on the basis of strati-
graphic relationships by Carmassi et al. (1983), who
suggested that dikes were emplaced when the outer
layers of hyaloclastite become thick enough to protect
the melt from direct contact with sea water. Further-
more, the submarine rocks overlie late Pliocene clays-
tone at the island of Palmarola (Carrara et al., 1986
and Carrara and Cremaschi, 1993) and therefore have
been suggested to be younger than Late Pliocene age
(De Rita et al., 1986). Carmassi et al. (1983) and
Scutter et al. (1998) interpreted the variety of facies
shown by the hyaloclastite of Ponza to be dependent
on the degree of quench fragmentation. Furthermore,
Scutter et al. (1998) showed that the hyaloclastite is
mostly in situ and, based on this, interpreted the
hyaloclastite to be the quenched facies of an extensive
lava ow, repeatedly intruded by dikes during and
after emplacement.
3. Geomorphology, stratigraphy and structure of
the submarine volcanic rocks of Ponza
The island of Ponza is more than 80% by volume
rhyolite dikes and associated hyaloclastite (Figs. 1 and
2). The key for understanding the mechanism of
emplacement of these submarine rocks is to assess
the geometry, structure and relative timing of hyalo-
clastite formation and dike intrusion and whether the
emplacement of such rocks occurred during a single
event or in different pulses. We rst present a geo-
morphological analysis in order to dene the rst
order geometry of the units; then we present a work-
ing eld description of hyaloclastite and dikes (refer-
ring the reader to the paper by Scutter et al. (1998) for
a more detailed facies description) and we focus on
the stratigraphic relationships; nally we present the
deformation associated with the emplacement of
dikes.
3.1. Geomorphology
The present geomorphology of Ponza results
mostly from the interplay of erosional processes and
the original geometry, distribution and lithology of the
volcanic rocks.
We have studied the present geomorphology in
order to reconstruct the original morphology of the
submarine volcanic rocks. This was done by means
of eld survey, study of aerial photographs and analy-
sis of a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) based on a
1:10.000 topographic map with contour interval of
510 m (Regione Lazio, 1990).
Ponza island is 0.51.5 km wide and about 7 km
across. The terrain is rugged and intricate, with high
relief, steep slopes and sea cliffs that result from
vigorous erosion. Comparison between the DTM
and geological map (Fig. 1) clearly illustrates the rela-
tionship between lithology and morphology at Ponza.
High parts of the island are held up by dikes, whereas
valleys are underlain by hyaloclastite, reecting the
different resistance to erosion of these facies. There is
little contribution of tectonic structures to the crest
valley arrangement at Ponza (cf. Fig. 6e).
The geomorphology of Ponza island provides
evidence that the submarine units, dikes and hyalo-
clastite, are distributed concentrically around three
main centres, which hereafter we name Mt Pagliaro,
Cala dell'Acqua and Cala Fontana (Fig. 1). The dikes
are annularly distributed around the core of the three
centres. They may have formed by magma intruding
along tangential and radial fracture systems.
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 224
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 225
Fig. 2. The Cala del Core cliff which shows stratigraphic relationships of in situ submarine volcanic facies at Ponza. D, coherent lava dike; D1,
earlier emplaced and later reintruded (D2) coherent lava dike; C, coherent lava cryptodome; H, hyaloclastite; note the alternating dark and pale
grey colours corresponding to hyaloclastite at different degrees of brecciation and the layering in the upper half of the cliff representing a ghost
ow banding (Scutter et al., 1998); H
D
, coarse-grained hyaloclastite in intrusive contact with H, and related to the emplacement of D. The box
indicates the location of Fig. 3a.
Mt Pagliaro (176 m a.s.l.) centre is located in the
central part of the island and is approximately 1.5 km
across. Four rings of dikes, alternating with hyaloclas-
tite (Fig. 1) can be recognised, and are concentrically
distributed around Mt Pagliaro. Note also that the
radius of each ring tends to increase moving away
from Mt Pagliaro. The structure is outlined by a
drainage network that is annular with respect to Mt
Pagliaro. Valleys are invariably eroded into the hyalo-
clastites. The same pattern is shown by the natural
water divides of the area, which are all made of dike
facies.
The other two centres (Cala dell'Acqua centre and
Cala Fontana centre, respectively; Fig. 1) are located
in the northern part of Ponza island at Cala dell'Acqua
and at Cala Fontana, and appear as coalescing, NE-
trending centres. The gemorphologic evidence of
concentric dikes for these two centres is more difcult
because of the strong coastal erosion. This part of the
island is in fact on average less than 1 km across.
However, the coalescence of the two centres is
reected by the long and wavy, NE-trending dike of
Mt Schiavone, higher than 100 m a.s.l (Fig. 1). The
slopes dene a double amphitheatre, one facing
toward Cala Fontana and the other toward Cala
dell'Acqua (Fig. 1). The crest separates asymmetric
slopes: high, subvertical cliffs to the SE and steep
slopes to the NW connecting at lower altitude with
much less inclined and smoother topography corre-
sponding to an area of intense hydrothermal alteration
(Carmassi et al., 1983). The drainage network is
poorly organised, with all the main courses conver-
ging toward the centres of the two dened amphithea-
tres (Fig. 1). There are two rings of dike that are
progressively less inclined away from the centre (cf.
cross section AA
0
, Fig. 1).
3.2. Stratigraphy
3.2.1. Hyaloclastite and dikes
Coarse-grained, monomictic, clast-supported
hyaloclastite breccia with little matrix is commonly
associated with the dikes' margins (Fig. 3a, b). Hyalo-
clasts may preserve internal ow banding and range in
size from decimetres up to a few metres. Medium-
grained, monomictic, matrix-supported breccia is the
most common hyaloclastite at Ponza. Hyaloclasts
range from centimetres to decimetres in size. Highly
fragmented, ne-grained hyaloclastite is also com-
mon. This facies may be massive to layered, and char-
acterised by ne grain size, with hyaloclasts ranging
from millimetres to centimetres in size. Most of the
hyaloclastite at Ponza shows jigsaw-t texture both at
the meso- and the micro-scale (Scutter et al., 1998),
indicating that little re-sedimentation occurred and
therefore can be regarded as the fragmented equiva-
lent of in situ lava. Scutter et al. (1998) also ascribe
the layering within hyaloclastite, where present, to
relict ow banding of the lava (top of the cliff
shown in Figs. 2 and 3a). Subvertical dikes and related
apophyses of rhyolite lava are surrounded by hyalo-
clastite, with which they are in transitional to intrusive
contact (Figs. 2 and 3a). Aphanitic to porphyritic
coherent lava forms the body of dikes. One of the
most striking features of the dikes is that they are
arcuate in plan view (Fig. 1). Most dikes are subver-
tical but have wavy margins and are surrounded by a
hydrothermally altered zone. However, there are also
dikes with little inclination (less than 308), generally
exposed along the base of the cliffs (Fig. 3c and d).
Lava shows ow banding parallel to the dike margins,
and vesicles are parallel to the main foliation (Fig. 3a).
The dikes range from a few metres to a few tens of
metres in width. Columnar jointing is well developed
in the inner core of the dikes (Fig. 3a). Magma rein-
jection along vertical joints is visible in a number of
the largest dikes (Fig. 3a), and resulted in older soli-
died lava being brecciated and faulted. Many dikes
enlarge upward into dome-like structures (Fig. 2) as
much as few hundreds of metres in diameter, wherein
ow-banding is mainly convolute. A clast-supported,
massive, mostly structureless, monomictic breccia of
angular blocks of ow-banded lava is exposed at Cala
dell'Acqua (Fig. 1), which could be interpreted as the
autoclastic carapace of a cryptodome-like structure
(Scutter et al., 1998). At the dike's margins, thin
zones of black, variably devitried obsidian perlite
are present. Pseudo-pillows are locally present at the
margins of dikes and apophyses (Yamagishi, 1987).
The margins of dikes grade outward into jigsaw-t
hyaloclastite breccia (Fig. 3a, b) indicating that
dikes emplaced in a wet environment. Domains
of hyaloclastite are also locally present within
ow-banded coherent rhyolite. In the central and
northern part of the island, the rhyolite forming
both dikes and hyaloclastite has generally a low
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 226
phenocryst content (,2% of plagiocalse and
biotite), whereas in the southern part of the island
the phenocryst content rises up to 20% (Scutter et
al., 1998). The fact that dikes and embedding
hyaloclastite have a generally similar crystal
content, whereas crystal content may be different
in different areas of the island, suggests that
dikes and hyaloclastite are cogenetic, and that
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 227
Fig. 3. (a) Dike D2 reintruded inside dike D1, which grades laterally into coarse-grained jigsaw t hyaloclastite H, with relict subvertical ow
banding. Note the columnar joints perpendicular to the dike margin and the ow banding parallel to the dike margin. Cala del Core locality. (b)
Coherent dike (D) grading vertically and laterally into coarse-grained hyaloclastite (cH). Geologist on the left for scale; Cala del Frontone
locality. (c) Progressively less inclined dikes (D) intruding into hyaloclastite (H) along the eastern cliffs of Ponza, from Cala d'Inferno to Cala
Gaetano. (d) Progressively less inclined dikes (D) intruding into hyaloclastite (H) along the cliffs of Mt Guardia. Note the marine abrasion
surface on which lie the Lower Pleistocene subaerial trachytic products.
variation from place to place on the island are possibly
related to different volcanic centres, or different
eruptions.
3.2.2. Relations of facies between hyaloclastite and
dikes
Coastal cliffs of Ponza show continuous outcrops of
up to 150 m in thickness of hyaloclastite and dikes,
where both transitional and sharp contacts between
hyaloclastite and dikes are exposed. Transitional
relationships involve the more or less ordered transition
outward from a coherent dike to coarse-, medium-, and
then ne-grained hyaloclastite (Fig. 3a). According to
the existing literature, the degree of fragmentation, and
hence the grain size of hyaloclastite, can be related to
the efciency of magmawater interaction (Pichler,
1965; Watanabe and Katsui, 1976; Carmassi et al.,
1983; Kokelaar, 1986; Busby-Spera and White,
1987; Yamagishi, 1987; Kano, 1989; Cas et al.,
1990; Kano et al., 1991; Hanson, 1991; Davis and
McPhie, 1996; Scutter et al., 1998). The propagation
of hydraulic cracks inward favour the percolation of
water within the lava, and hence, fracturing which,
therefore, is more pervasive where there is a better
efciency in thermal energy exchange between lava
and water (fracturing being the result of such energy
exchange), that is, on a general scale, from the outside
to the inside. Sharp contacts are, however, more
common than transitional at Ponza, and are of three
types:
(1) Sharp steeply dipping, intrusive contacts
between hyaloclastite and dikes (Fig. 2). This type
of contact is commonly subvertical, but may be less
inclined according to the inclination of the dike or
apophysis (Fig. 3c, d). The irregular shape of dikes
both in plan view (Fig. 1) and in cross-section (Fig. 2)
along with the development of coarse-grained
hyaloclastite surrounding the dikes (Figs. 2 and 3a,
b) indicate that dikes emplaced into a loose, water-
saturated and yielding environment (Scutter et al.,
1998; Cas et al., 2000; Giordano and Cas, 2000).
The coarse-grained hyaloclastite associated with the
dike may result from intrusion of new magma into
previously fragmented and still water-saturated hyalo-
clastite, which prevented the direct contact between
magma and sea water, but allowed for a low degree of
magma quenching resulting in a coarse grain size.
Dikes should have therefore emplaced before
compaction of the embedding hyaloclastites and
could be interpreted as belonging to the same eruptive
episode, although characterised by different pulses.
(2) Sharp subhorizontal to gently dipping contacts
between hyaloclastites bodies at different degrees of
brecciation have been observed at many locations. For
example, along the eastern coast of the island,
between Cala D'Inferno and Mt Schiavone, a 1 km
long NE-trending coarse-grained hyaloclastite body
is overlain by a ne-grained layered hyaloclastite
body along an abrupt contact dipping approximately
308 to the NW (Fig. 4a). Along the contact, a small
sill-like apophysis of a dike is also intruded (Fig. 4a
A). A similar stratigraphic contact is exposed along
the western coast of the island between Punta Capo
Bianco and Punta Capo Bosco, where medium- to
coarse-grained hyaloclastite is overlain by ne-
grained hyaloclastite. The contact is characterised
by the presence of loose cobbles and pebbles (Fig.
4b). A possible interpretation for the occurrence of
several piled up unconformity-bounded hyaloclastite
bodies is that each one may be related to the emplace-
ment of an extrusive lava ow, which has undergone
different degrees of hyaloclastic fragmentation. If this
is the case, a signicant part of the rhyolite exposed in
the cliffs was emplaced during discrete pulses.
(3) High angle normal faults that separate hyalo-
clastite bodies at different degrees of brecciation are
exposed ubiquitously over the island cliffs and will be
described in detail in the following section. At the
Cala dell'Acqua locality, low angle fault planes
(,308) juxtapose allochtonous masses of internally
undisturbed hyaloclastite, tens of metres thick (Fig.
4c). The faults are arranged in shear zones up to some
metres thickandare markedbynelyfragmentedhyalo-
clastite altered to various degrees into secondary clay
minerals (G. Giampaolo, personal communication).
Sigmoidal structures and kinematic indicators indi-
cate a normal sense of shear. Given the small angle
of inclination, these faults can be interpreted to be
gravitational rockslide planes. The area affected by
the rockslides is extensive, from Cala dell'Acqua to
Cala d'Inferno (Fig. 1).
3.2.3. Reworked deposits
The facies described in the previous sections
are primary and hence in situ. On Ponza, limited
exposures of resedimented hyaloclastite have also
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 228
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 229
Fig. 4. (a) Subhorizontal stratigraphic contact between the ne-grained, layered hyaloclastite body H and the coarse-grained hyaloclastite body
H1. Note that the black dike D forms apophysis A which follows the contact. Mt Schiavone locality. The cliff is 150 m high. (b) Discordant
stratigraphic contact between a coarse-grained hyaloclastite body (below the black line) and a ne-grained hyaloclastite body (above the black
line). The arrow points to a loose clast of lava. The outcrop is 2 m high. Punta Capo Bianco locality. (c) Low angle slide planes arranged in a
shear zone. The hyaloclastite bodies above and below the shear zone are internally undisturbed. Circled boat for scale. Cala dell'Acqua locality.
been recognised. These resedimented deposits include
thick, massive and chaotic deposits conned inside U-
shaped channels and subhorizontal bedded sand-
stones. U-shaped erosional channels are cut into in
situ hyaloclastites (Fig. 5a). Channels can be up to
some tens of metres deep and wide, and up to 258
inclined. The channels may be the product of slides
originated directly from the external margins of the
growing topography of the hyaloclastite. The deposits
inlling the channels are usually coarse, poorly sorted
and massive. Large clasts are abundant, from matrix
to clast supported, from centimetres to metres in size
and may show normal grading (Fig. 5a). Clast lithol-
ogies may include all types of hyaloclastite, as well as
coherent lava blocks, including black obsidian and
green to grey ow-banded rhyolite. They can be inter-
preted to be the proximal facies of a turbidite depos-
ited on a steeply inclined channel cut and lled by a
mass-wasting event (e.g. Postma, 1986). Bedded
sandstone, parallel to gently cross-stratied, and
gently dipping is exposed in a few localities, and
consists of sand-size hyaloclasts (Fig. 5b). Larger
clasts of obsidian perlite and ow banded lava up to
a few decimetres in size are imbricated in places. Beds
are generally normal to reverse graded, and from a
decimetre to a few metres thick. The basal contact is
erosional in places, and rip-up clasts of the underlying
deposits are present, as much as 1 m above the base of
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 230
Fig. 5. (a) U-shaped channel cut into in situ ne-grained hyaloclastite (fH) overlying coarse-grained hyaloclastite (cH). The channel is lled by
coarse debris ow deposits (R). Punta Capobianco locality. The cliff is 40 m high. (b) Bedded sandstones dipping at a few degrees and
composed of sand- and cobble-size hyaloclasts intruded by a dike (to the right) at Ponza town.
the deposit. This unit can be interpreted to be the distal
equivalent of the coarse massive deposits described
above. Subaqueous resedimented deposits have been
recognised interbedded with hyaloclastite units at
Cala dell'Acqua locality (Fig. 1). They consist of
massive to bedded, pebble- to sand-sized deposits,
about 20 m thick, and are intruded by dike apophyses.
These deposits have been reported to include pumice
clasts, millimetres to centimetres in size within a
matrix made by blocky to cuspate glass shards
(Scutter et al., 1998). The resedimented hyaloclastite
lls a synformal, NE-trending, topographic depres-
sion approximately 200 m across (Fig. 1). The depres-
sion is developed at the top of in situ hyaloclastite and
appears related to the presence of lava dikes to the SE
(Mt Schiavone) and to the NW (Cala dell'Acqua), the
intrusion of which might have inducedthe formationof
a topographic low in between.
3.3. Structure
The most evident structures associated with the
syn-volcanic stress eld at Ponza are the dikes and
the related deformation that occur everywhere on
the island. It has already been mentioned that the
dike margins are often irregular. The dikes themselves
are not linear in plan view, nor do they show preferred
orientations; instead, they trend to be concentric
around the Mt Pagliaro, Cala dell'Acqua and Cala
Fontana centres (Fig. 1). Furthermore, dikes appear
progressively less inclined away from the centres
(Fig. 3b and c), forming a `ower' structure in cross
section (cross sections AA
0
and BB
0
, Fig. 1).
The volcanic rocks of Ponza have been affected by
brittle deformation. Faults and fractures are well
exposed in the cliffs of hyaloclastite. Most are
extensional and form conjugate sets with no evident
antecedence (Fig. 6a). Faults appear as narrow anasto-
mosed shear zones rather than discrete planes, some-
what similar to the scaly-fabric zones developed in
unconsolidated sediments (Maltman, 1998). The
shear zones are generally 15 cm wide (Fig. 6b) and
composed of ne-grained cataclasite that wraps
around larger grains, suggesting that the hyaloclastite
underwent particulate deformation and tectonic de-
watering (Maltman, 1998). Striae and steps are locally
present on the fault surfaces, indicating extension
(Fig. 6c). These faults and fractures are inferred,
therefore, to have nucleated in pre-lithied water-
saturated hyaloclastite (Maltman, 1994). Few reverse
and strikeslip faults are present near dikes. Statisti-
cal analysis of fault and fracture plane orientations
shows that they trend parallel to dikes at the scale of
a single dike (Fig. 7af), but that they have scattered
orientations at the scale of the whole island (Fig. 7g).
This is because orientations of dikes are mainly
concentric and tangential to the three centres of Mt
Pagliaro, Cala dell'Acqua and Cala Fontana. The
deformation appears, therefore, to have been strictly
controlled by the local stress induced by magma intru-
sion rather than the regional stress eld. There is,
however, a clustering of fault plane strikes around
the NE direction, which is also the direction along
which the three centres of Mt Pagliaro, Cala
dell'Acqua and Cala Fontana align. A histogram of
the strikes of topographic slopes (Fig. 8) also suggests
that NE-trending regional lineaments have affected
the area on a large scale. One very important feature
is that the majority of faults and fractures depart
radially outward from dikes and do not cut the dikes
themselves (Fig. 6d, e), indicating that deformation is
related to the dike intrusion. Therefore, we interpret
these mesoscale features to have formed as the result
of the interplay of progressive injection of magma into
hyaloclastites and gravitational stress (vertical s
1
;
Donnadieu and Merle, 1998). The local occurrence
of domino structures with block rotation along a hori-
zontal axis (Fig. 6d) also points out the presence of
shallow detachments (cf. the `exural cantilever
model' by Kusznir et al., 1991 and references therein)
likely related to sill-like intrusions, or accommodated
along the dike's margin.
4. Discussion
Stratigraphic, structural and geomorphological data
allow a better understanding of the origin of the
submarine volcanic rocks at Ponza and a model for
the emplacement of rhyolitic submarine domes
(Fig. 9).
We believe that the data presented can be explained
by the presence at Ponza of three lava domes,
coinciding with the three centres of Mt Pagliaro,
Cala dell'Acqua and Cala Fontana, 1 km apart along
a NE trend. The characteristics of these centres are
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 231
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 232
partly different from those described from subaerial
environments because of the large scale of hyaloclastic
fragmentation that occurs in subaqueous environments,
and affects the parameters controlling the shape and
rate of growth of domes.
The data presented in the previous sections can be
summarised and interpreted as follows:
(1) Hyaloclastite and dikes are contemporaneous,
and locally grade from one to another. Where dikes
intrude earlier emplaced hyaloclastite, new hyalo-
clastite formed at the margin of dikes, which are
also irregular in cross section, providing evidence
that the latter was still wet. Discordant stratigraphic
surfaces can be identied, separating different
hyaloclastite bodies (i.e. lava ows) emplaced in
succession. This indicates that although Ponza formed
in a single eruptive episode, there were many discrete
eruptive pulses.
(2) Although each dike is a feeder to surrounding
hyaloclastite, geomorphology and syn-volcanic defor-
mation show that there is a clear annular arrangement
at the scale of the island (Fig. 1), of all dikes around
three centres at Mt Pagliaro, Cala dell'Acqua and Cala
Fontana. This orientation of dikes and faults is not
related to regionally oriented fractures in the base-
ment, but rather to the local stress pattern. Faults
being mainly conjugate and extensional, as well as
not preferentially oriented, the stress pattern should
have been dominated by a vertical s
1
^s
2
s
3
(Ramsay, 1967; Nakamura, 1977), likely induced by
gravity and magma intrusion from beneath. The
circumferential pattern suggests that the weak hyalo-
clastite pile produced a topographic stress eld that
dominated the magmatic. Furthermore, dikes dip
progressively less steeply with distance from the
morphologic centre of the inferred domes, as can
be expected for intrusions along faults nucleated as
a result of a progressive cryptodome intrusion
(Donnadieu and Merle, 1998). The inuence of the
regional tectonic stress eld can only be identied at
a broader scale, where the domes appear aligned along
a NE-trending lineament parallel to one of the
regional extensional fault systems active in the area.
(3) The paleotopography of the domes was charac-
terised by the presence of basins and channels in
which subaqueous resedimented hyaloclastite was
emplaced. This may reect both the intrusion of
new magma from beneath and the occurrence of
mass wasting events, recorded at Ponza by mass-
ow deposits and coherent mass-slides.
(4) Most of the hyaloclastite exposed at Ponza is in
situ; the limited resedimented deposits observed can
be interpreted to have formed during emplacement of
the hyaloclastite, possibly in response to topographic
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 233
Fig. 6. (a) Conjugate set of normal faults in hyaloclastite. (b) Anastomosed shear zone, 10 cm wide composed of ne-grained cataclastic
hyaloclastite wrapping around larger hyaloclasts. (c) Striae along an anastomosed fault plane nucleated within ne-grained hyaloclastite. (d)
Set of normal faults (black arrowed solid lines) dipping toward the dike D in the foreground. The faults are rotational as the coarse-grained
hyaloclastite (dark grey)/ne-grained hyaloclastite (pale grey) contact shows domino tilting. The cliff is 30 m high. (e) Normal faults (black
arrowed dashed lines) develop radially outward from dikes (D) and never cut them indicating that they formed as a result of the dike
emplacement. The dike to the right-hand side of the picture enlarges along a set of conjugate faults. A, apophisis. Note that the valley is
cut in hyaloclastite regardless of the structure. Cala del Core locality. The cliff is 120 m high.
Table 1
Processes controlling the growth of submarine lava domes
Process Effect
Development of a thick hyaloclastic
carapace (10100 m thick or more)
Strong rheological contrast between brittle water-saturated hyaloclastite and ductilely
emplaced lava dikes and apophyses. Submarine domes grow through alternating
endogenous and exogenous phases.
Regional stress versus local vertical s
1
Domes align along regional trends but locally develop radial and concentric patterns of
fracture, where `rootless' dikes may emplace.
Vertical growth of domes and
consequent decrease of sea water depth
Periodic exceeding of the gravity stability threshold, triggering coherent to uncoherent
slides that eventually grade into turbidity currents.
Formation of basins and channels on the surface of the dome.
Transition from non-explosive to explosive magmawater interaction.
growth of the hyaloclastite. The original domes were
probably much larger, and distal facies are presently
mostly eroded away. After the emergence of the
island, domes underwent strong coastal erosion,
which progressed inward to where dikes make the
domes more resistant to erosion. The present day
island is the remnant of the core of the domes.
The present interpretation does not modify the
existing model for formation of hyaloclastite
proposed by Pichler (1965), and later detailed by
Carmassi et al. (1983); Yamagishi (1987); Cas et al.
(1990); Scutter et al. (1998). That model is a general-
ised one and valid at the scale of a single hyaloclastite
feeder dike. The model, however, does not address the
occurrence of the annular trend of dikes and faults
seen at Ponza, nor the evidence for pulsating construc-
tive and destructive pulses, which instead can be inter-
preted in terms of the growth and evolution of a
submarine dome, where the formation of a hyaloclas-
tic carapace plays a major role.
5. A model for submarine dome growth
The domes' structure and evolution reect the
degree of quenching by sea water experienced by
the magma, the interplay between regional and local
tectonic stresses, and the continuous changes in the
domes' topography and sea water depth (Table 1).
The lava of the domes was emplaced in pulses.
Each pulse, when lava was extruded onto the seaoor,
produced a thick carapace of fragmented hyaloclastite
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 234
Fig. 7. Stereonet projections (lower hemisphere) of fault and frac-
ture poles at seven locations (a)(f). At each location, there are one
or two sets of conjugate faults that are parallel to the dikes.
However, there is no preferred orientation. Total data are dispersed
at 3608 (g).
Fig. 8. Slope orientation diagram that underlines a preferential NE-
trending orientation, probably related to the regional extensional
system.
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 235
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(Fig. 9a), grading inward into autobreccia of the
carapace facies, then to coherent ow-banded rhyo-
lite. Further pulses of magma intrusion, combined
with an increase in height of the dome, would have
produced the observed concentric fractures and faults
(Fig. 9). Dikes intruded along these fracture systems
and invaded previously emplaced but still water-
saturated hyaloclastite. Dikes are progressively less
inclined away from the inferred dome centre. Faults
around dikes are also generally progressively less
inclined away from the dike itself and dikes appear
located in the graben determined by the conjugate
extensional faults (Figs. 3b and 6e). This geometry
provides an important insight for the understanding
of the kinematic of intrusion. The fanlike pattern of
faults and dikes can be interpreted in terms of s
1
trajectories associated with the intrusions (Fig. 9,
stage 1). Analogue experiments by Donnadieu and
Merle (1998) (see also Gudmundsson, 1984; Walker,
1984) show that s
1
trajectories induced by an intrud-
ing body in the country rock are fan-shaped and there-
fore the associated extensional faults rotate according
with the local s
1
direction. Extension is helped by the
dome's topographic relief that induces a subhorizontal
s
3
!s
1
(Fig. 9, stage 2). Furthermore, domino struc-
tures and block rotations are possible as the molten
dike's margins and apophyses act as detachments.
This geometry, along with the eld evidence that
faults do not cut dikes, imply that at the dike scale
the intrusion rst induces fanlike faulting of the over-
lying country rock and then rises at the centre of the
graben in the subsided area. At the dome scale, the
observed concentric fanlike pattern of dikes can be
explained by magma intrusion along fanlike faults
nucleated in the hyaloclastic carapace as a result of
doming associated with the growth of the underlying
dome.
Subsequent events included reintrusion and fault-
ing. Early lava lobes were mostly exogenous, whereas
later ones were both endogenous and exogenous (Fig.
9) (Fink and Bridges, 1995).
The concentric arrangement of the Ponza dikes
resembles that of subaerial volcanoes (Chadwick
and Dieterich, 1995). However, the alternation with
hyaloclastite around the core of the dome is a
peculiarity of submarine domes. In subaerial environ-
ments, domes are largely composed of coherent lava
(Fink and Bridges, 1995) enveloped by a thin
autobrecciated carapace, the thickness of which
depends on the physicalchemical and rheological
characteristics of the magma. In submarine environ-
ments, rapid quenching induces the development of a
much thicker hyaloclastic carapace, particulate in
nature. The occurrence at Ponza of syn-intrusion
faults and fractures implies that this particulate cara-
pace behaved in a brittle manner in response to kine-
matic stress. Fracture and fault systems developed in
the hyaloclastite are circumferential and radial with
respect to the core of the dome, as the local s
1
is
vertical. These fracture systems are also preferential
routes for new magma ascending above the substrate
dome contact, and so have an origin similar to that of
the `rootless dikes' of Pichler (1965).
The mass-slides noted at Ponza, including both the
large one and the smaller ones associated with U-
shaped channels may be related to the growth rate
of the domes, reecting periodic collapses that main-
tain equilibrium between height and radius of the
dome (Fig. 9b). All theoretical studies on domes
(Blake, 1990; Fink and Grifths, 1990, 1992; Grifths
and Fink, 1993; Fink and Bridges, 1995) deal with
subaerial domes and suggest that dome shapes and
characteristics are controlled mainly by the thickness
of a solid crust, the development of which depends on
the rate of cooling of the lava and the average effusion
rate. Blake (1990) suggests that a growing subaerial
dome maintains a state of static equilibrium such that
its height, radius, density and yield strength are
always related. We suggest here that the shape and
rheologic behaviour of submarine domes are closely
controlled by the degree of magmawater interaction
and the development and thickness of a particulate
hyaloclastic carapace. Hyaloclastite forms immedi-
ately at the contact with sea water and assumes the
role of the solid crust in subaerial environment.
Fink and Bridges (1995) propose that the rate at
which a dome becomes taller is sensitive to the ef-
ciency of cooling. For conditions that favour rapid
cooling, thickening of the surface crust causes
domes to grow taller faster. Furthermore, in cold
environments, a rough substrate retards lateral advec-
tion of the cooling uid, producing domes that are
taller for a given diameter. In the case of Ponza,
quenching is the main factor which would favour
vertical growth of the dome. At the same time, the
particulate nature of the hyaloclastic carapace,
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 236
together with the subaqueous environment, prevent
excessive vertical growth of the dome: large slides
of hyaloclastite move along low angle planes to
restore morphological equilibrium of the dome, as
soon as the vertical growth of the dome exceeds a
gravity stability threshold (Fig. 9b). This threshold
is related to the thickness and coefcient of internal
friction of the hyaloclastic carapace (Blake 1990).
Reworked deposits, as dened here for Ponza,
represent collapses of the growing dome by analogy
with domes in a subaerial environment (Blake, 1990).
The Ponza reworked deposits are mainly in proximal
facies because the present-day outcrops are the eroded
remnant of the submarine domes, which are the core
areas and the most resistant parts to erosion.
An interesting feature of the submarine domes at
Ponza is the development of small basins and valleys
at the top of the growing domes, such as the valley
described at Cala dell'Acqua (Fig. 1), which contains
reworked deposits. The model presented here allows
for the formation of basins and valleys through lateral
collapses and small-graben formation within the dome
in a submarine environment. However, there is a
marked morphological and geological similarity
between the Cala dell'Acqua dome and the ring
domes of Dastjerd and Ravanj in central Iran
(Emami and Michel, 1982, Figs. 810), where the
centre of the domes appears collapsed, producing a
peculiar ring structure with a topographically lower
centre and circular external levees. Those authors
interpreted the structure as due to a late-stage dea-
tion of the dome. We suggest that this mechanismmay
have contributed to the morphologic evolution of the
submarine domes at Ponza, as suggested by the
presence of the carapace facies at the present sea
level in the centre of the dome, surrounded by ring
dikes at a higher topographic elevation on Mt
Schiavone.
Several authors have described subaqueous pyro-
clastic deposits at the top of hyaloclastite at Ponza
(Pichler, 1965; Carmassi et al., 1983; Bellucci et al.,
1997; Scutter et al., 1998), which may indicate that
during the last phases of submarine eruption, water
depth above the domes might have become shallower,
allowing explosive activity to occur. There are no
constraints on the water depth involved in the forma-
tion of hyaloclastite and pyroclastic deposits at Ponza.
However, some authors suggest that hyaloclastite
forms at depths between 700 and 200 m below the
sea level, whereas explosive eruption may occur
above 2200 m together with the decrease in water
pressure (Cas et al., 1990).
The Ponza volcanoes are related to the regional
structural fabric only in a general way. Most of the
structural features associated with the volcanic rocks
are contemporaneous with emplacement of the
submarine volcanic units and reect a combination
of gravity and stresses produced by rising magma.
On the other hand, the NE alignment of the domes
themselves parallels regional fractures trends, as well
as the trend of escarpments bordering the continental
shelf. Such features have been interpreted as transfer
faults related to opening of the Tyrrhenian basin and
as extension faults related to vertical tectonics
(Boriani et al., 1989; Pialli et al., 1991; Tozzi et al.,
1991).
6. Comparison with previous literature
Data and interpretation presented in this paper
further detail and rene the interpretation of the
submarine volcanic rocks of Ponza as feeder dike
hyaloclastite complexes (Pichler, 1965; Carmassi et
al., 1983; De Rita et al., 1986). In the light of the
new data, this interpretation appears more convincing
with respect to the other popular interpretation for the
Ponza submarine volcanics as extensive hyaloclastic
lava ows later intruded by dikes (Barberi et al., 1967;
Scutter et al., 1998) for the following reasons.
1. There are many hyaloclastite bodies at Ponza
bounded by intrusive, discordant and concordant
surfaces which imply the occurrence of several
different intrusive and extrusive magma pulses
that are difcult to explain with the emplacement
of a single lava ow. Mass slides and development
of topographic basins are also in agreement with a
long standing evolution of a dome through time
along with the change in crystallinity of the rhyo-
lite, both the lava and the hyaloclastite, from north
to south, that implies the presence of more than one
eruptive centre.
2. Since most of the hyaloclastite is in situ, it is likely
that it represents the hyaloclastic equivalent of
small volume, close to dike, lava ows rather
D. DeRita et al. / Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 107 (2001) 221239 237
than a large volume lava ow. To prevent clast
rotation, a single lava ow should have in fact
owed for tens of kilometres, and then come to
rest before the hyaloclastic fragmentation: not
impossible but unlikely.
3. The Late Pliocene rhyolitic submarine volcanism
of the Pontinian Archipelago is contemporaneous
with the development of two on-shore volcanic
complexes along the Latian Tyrrhenian margin,
the Tolfa rhyolite dome complex and the Ceriti-
Manziate rhyolite dome complex (Serri, 1990;
Barberi et al., 1994; De Rita et al., 1994, 1997),
both characterised by the formation of several
kilometre-sized lava domes, generally aligned
along regional tectonic trends. It appears a likely
scenario that the Ponza volcanism represents the
submarine equivalent of the subaerial dome
complexes on-shore, rather than that of a single
eruption point erupting a large lava ow, which
is contemporaneously intruded along its path by
small volume dikes, and which has no subaerial
counterpart.
Acknowledgements
We wish to thank Ivo Lucchitta whose review
greatly improved the quality of the manuscript. We
are grateful to C. Rosa, C. Faccenna, C. Giampaolo,
C. Scutter, L. Moore, R.A.F. Cas, D.J. White, D.
Gimeno and G.A. Valentine for their comments and
suggestions. We wish to thank all the students of the
Field Geology course who during the springs of 1995,
1996 and 1997 helped us to resolve many aspects of
the geology of Ponza with their eld work and ques-
tions. This research was funded by MURST, 60%.
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