Behncke (1998) Volcanism on the Hyblean Plateau (SE Sicily) during the past 230 Ma

Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

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Boris Behncke (1998)
Volcanism on the Hyblean Plateau (southeastern Sicily)
during the past 230 Ma
Bollettino dell'Accademia Gioenia di Scienze Naturali, Catania, volume 31 (no. 335), pages 39-50
Original title: Il vulcanesimo del Plateau Ibleo (Sicilia sud-orientale) negli ultimi 230 Ma


The Hyblean Plateau (SE Sicily) has been the site of four major phases of volcanic activity during the past 230 Ma, each of these phases occurring in different tectonic conditions. The products of the first two phases (Upper Triassic and Middle Jurassic) have only been encountered by deep drilling in the Ragusa area, and consequently information about these volcanics is limited. The products of the third phase of volcanism (Upper Cretacesou) are prsent in outcrops and consist largely of submarine lavas and breccias. Traces of eruptive centerc of this phase are present int he form of a pronounced dike swarm at Capo Passero. Following the late Cretaceous volcanism no eruptive activity occurred on the Hyblean Plateau for more than 50 Ma, but in the late Miocene the fourth eruptive phase began; this was to last until the early Pleistocene and consisted of five main cycles. This phase of activity was characterized by highly variable eruptive styles in a rapidly changing environment, resulting in a wide range of facies. Eruptive activity took place intially below the sea level, but some of the edifices grew above the sea level, creating volcanic islands. During the Upper Pliocene and Lower Pleistocene there were complex interactions between sea-level fluctuations and tectonic uplift of the northern margin of the Hyblean Plateau. All volcanic activity on the Plateau ceased during the Lower Pleistocene, but continued in the area adjacent to the north, progressing across the Catania Plain to the Etnean zone, where it is continuing to the present. Even though located in a geodynamic setting different from that of the Hyblean Plateau, Etna may be considered but the latest chapter in the long saga of Hyblean volcanism.
The total volume of Hyblean volcanics exceeds 3500 km3, but this figure must be considered in connection with the fact that all eruptive episodes were of very brief duration (years to centuries) and correspondingly the eruption rates were high during these events.

Keywords: Volcanism, Hyblean Plateau, Sicily, Eruptive phases, Submarine eruptions, Volcanic islands


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