High-resolution K-Ar dating of a complex magmatic system: The example of Basse-Terre Island (French West Indies) - INSU - Institut national des sciences de l'Univers Access content directly
Journal Articles Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research Year : 2017

High-resolution K-Ar dating of a complex magmatic system: The example of Basse-Terre Island (French West Indies)

J. Ricci
  • Function : Author
X. Quidelleur
P. Lahitte


For the first time in the Lesser Antilles volcanic arc, we combine for one island, 123 K-Ar ages, with 133 major and trace elements geochemical analyses, in order to better constrain the volcanic history of Basse-Terre Island. In this study, nine new ages have been obtained from the southern part of the island, and complemented with eighty-three new major and trace element analyses of samples collected across the island. The southern part of Basse-Terre Island has been the loci of volcanic activity since the last 200 kyr. It is characterized by the construction of the Grande-Découverte Volcanic Complex (GDVC) composed by the Grande-Découverte - Soufrière (GDS) and the Trois-Rivières Madeleine Field (TRMF). After the onset of construction at least at 205 ± 28 ka, the GDVC displays strikingly continuous activity between 140 ± 13 and 56 ± 3 ka, followed by a 30 kyr volcanic hiatus, which is coeval with the hiatus also observed for the TRMF activity. Two new ages of 125 ± 14 and 140 ± 13 ka obtained on a lava flow from the Grande-Découverte caldera wall suggest the presence of a depression, resulting of a major flank collapse and/or explosive event, before 140 ka. Finally, a new age of 9 ± 6 ka, obtained from outcrops exposed on the edge of the Class River, in the north of the GDVC, allows us to calculate channel incision rates between 11 and 56 mm/yr. These values are consistent with incision rates determined on other volcanic islands with similar climates.

In a broad sense, the petrology and geochemistry of Basse-Terre Island rocks appear fairly homogeneous, with mainly andesite and basaltic-andesite rocks and typical features of volcanic-arc lavas. Nevertheless, in detail, various magmatic processes can be discerned. Most variations are principally controlled by crystal-melt fractionation-accumulation, but major and trace elements also highlight episodic magmatic recharge, involving magma mixing. There are also indications for assimilation of crustal rocks with continental affinity, as well as mantle input of slab-derived fluids. Trace element ratios suggest the presence of at least two different magmatic sources characterized by different partial melting rates and different continental contributions for Basse-Terre Island. Different massifs show a bimodal behavior, with the Basal Complex, the Axial Chain (Piton de Bouillante and Southern Axial Chain), the Monts-Caraïbes volcanoes and the Sans-Toucher volcano in the first group, and the Septentrional Chain, and the Grande-Découverte Volcanic Complex (GDS and TRMF) in the second. Given the unique amount of time-constrained geochemical data, this study provides a complete and detailed investigation of volcanic evolution in the central part of the Lesser Antilles active arc.

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Dates and versions

insu-03745254 , version 1 (04-08-2022)



J. Ricci, X. Quidelleur, C. Pallares, P. Lahitte. High-resolution K-Ar dating of a complex magmatic system: The example of Basse-Terre Island (French West Indies). Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 2017, 345, pp.142-160. ⟨10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2017.07.013⟩. ⟨insu-03745254⟩
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