National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration
United States Department of Commerce


FY 1992

Submarine tumuli and inflated tube-fed lava flows on Axial Volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge

Appelgate, B., and R.W. Embley

Bull. Volcanol., 54, 447–458, doi: 10.1007/BF00301391 (1992)

A seafloor lava field was mapped within the summit caldera of Axial Volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge, using SeaMARC I sidescan sonar and submersible observations. By analogy with similar subaerial features, we infer that several volcanic seafloor features here formed by the process of lava flow inflation. Flow inflation occurs within tube-fed lava flows when lava continues to be supplied to the interior of a flow that has ceased advancing, thus uplifting the flow's rigid surface and creating a suite of characteristic surface structures. Inflated lavas require a feeder lava tube or tube system connected to a remote lava source, and therefore we infer that inflated submarine lava flows contain lava tubes. Inflated flow features identified from sidescan sonar images elsewhere on Axial Volcano and within the axial valley of the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge suggest that flow inflation is a widespread submarine volcanic process.

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