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A Palaeocene intracanyon-style lava emplaced during the early shield-building stage of the Cuillin Volcano, Isle of Skye, NW Scotland

Bell, Brian R.; Williamson, Ian T.. 2013 A Palaeocene intracanyon-style lava emplaced during the early shield-building stage of the Cuillin Volcano, Isle of Skye, NW Scotland. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 104 (2). 205-230. 10.1017/S1755691013000509

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Abstract/Summary

The twin summits of Preshal More and Preshal Beg, near Talisker, Isle of Skye, comprise the erosional remnants of a thick (at least 120 m) compound olivine tholeiite lava, or flow field, that ponded in palaeo-valleys within the Palaeocene lava field of west-central Skye. This unique flow field constitutes the Talisker Formation and is the youngest preserved extrusive unit of the Skye Lava Field. The lava inundated a complex of palaeo-valleys incised into the higher stratigraphical levels of the existing lava field, and remnants of the original sedimentary fill of these valleys still exist, the Preshal Beg Conglomerate Formation. The lava displays spectacularly well-developed two-tier (colonnade-entablature) columnar joint sets that formed as a consequence of slow, uninterrupted cooling through its base and sidewalls, aided by groundwater circulation and water ingress (from displaced drainage) directed into the lava's interior by master-joint systems. Intrusive phenomena developed at both the base and the top of the lava and there is evidence for the existence of subsurface feeder tubes. The tholeiitic composition of the Talisker Formation lava contrasts with the transitional, mildly alkaline characteristics of the remainder of the (older) lavas of Skye Lava Field. In broad terms, the Talisker Formation lava is compositionally very similar to the suite of cone-sheets emplaced into the oldest of the four intrusive centres that comprise the Skye Central Complex – the Cuillin Intrusive Centre – together with a high proportion of the Skye regional dyke swarm. The stratigraphical position, field relationships and compositional characteristics of the lava indicate that it was erupted and emplaced as an intracanyon-style flow field during the early shield-building stage in the growth of the (tholeiitic) Cuillin Volcano, which post-dates the main Skye ‘plateau’ Lava Field. Although the remnant outcrops are detached from their likely source area through erosion, this tholeiitic lava provides the first direct evidence linking the central complexes of the British Palaeogene Igneous Province and their eruptive products.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI): 10.1017/S1755691013000509
ISSN: 1755-6910
Date made live: 03 Jan 2014 16:24 +0 (UTC)
URI: http://nora.nerc.ac.uk/id/eprint/504396

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