Oceanography The Official Magazine of
The Oceanography Society
Volume 30 Issue 04

View Issue TOC
Volume 30, No. 4
Pages 82 - 99

High-Resolution AUV Mapping and Targeted ROV Observations of Three Historical Lava Flows at Axial Seamount

David A. Clague Jennifer B. PaduanDavid W. CaressWilliam W. Chadwick Jr.Morgane Le SaoutBrian M. DreyerRyan A. Portner
Article Abstract

The lava flows produced by eruptions at Axial Seamount in 1998, 2011, and 2015 were mapped at 1 m resolution from autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) developed at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). A portion of the flows erupted in 2011 and 2015 are defined by pre- and post-eruption AUV surveys. Data processing software, also developed at MBARI, precisely coregisters pre- and post-eruption surveys to allow construction of difference maps by subtracting a pre-eruption grid from a post-eruption grid. Such difference maps are key to extracting detailed information about eruptive processes and emplacement of the lava flows. All three eruptions began on the east side of the caldera, and each produced ~25 × 106 m3 of thin channelized flows (with sheet lava channels, lobate lava interiors with pillars, and distal inflated pillow lobes) in the caldera and on the upper south or north rifts. The 1998 and 2011 eruptions propagated down the south rift, and the 2015 eruption propagated down the north rift. The 2011 and 2015 eruptions formed shallow grabens surrounding new non-eruptive open fissures on the east rim of the caldera and produced thick hummocky flows on upper to mid rifts, and the 2011 eruption also produced a thick hummocky flow on the lower south rift. Future eruptions at Axial Seamount will likely follow this pattern, regardless of which rift is the locus of the eruption.


Clague, D.A., J.B. Paduan, D.W. Caress, W.W. Chadwick Jr., M. Le Saout, B.M. Dreyer, and R.A. Portner. 2017. High-resolution AUV mapping and targeted ROV observations of three historic lava flows at Axial Seamount. Oceanography 30(4):82–99, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2017.426.


Arnulf, A.F., A.J. Harding, G.M. Kent, S.M. Carbotte, J.P. Canales, and M.R. Nedimovic. 2014. Anatomy of an active submarine volcano. Geology 42(8):655–658, https://doi.org/10.1130/G35629.1.

Baker, E.T., C.G. Fox and J.P. Cowen. 1999. In situ observations of the onset of hydrothermal discharge during the 1998 submarine eruption of Axial Volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge. Geophysical Research Letters 26(23):3,445–3,448, https://doi.org/​10.1029/​1999GL002331.

Ballard, R.D., R.T. Holcomb, and T.H. van Andel. 1979. The Galapagos rift at 86°W: Part 3. Sheet flows, collapse pits, and lava lakes of the rift valley. Journal of Geophysical Research 84:5,407–5,422, https://doi.org/10.1029/JB084iB10p05407.

Ballard, R.D., and T.H. van Andel. 1977. Morphology and tectonics of the inner rift valley at 36°50'N on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Geological Society of America Bulletin 88:507–530.

Caplan-Auerbach, J., R.P. Dziak, J. Haxel, R.R. Bohnenstiehl, and C. Garcia. 2017. Explosive processes during the 2015 eruption at Axial Seamount, as recorded by seafloor hydrophones. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 18:1,761–1,774, https://doi.org/​10.1002/2016GC006734.

Caress, D.W., and D.N. Chayes. 2011. MB-System: Mapping the Seafloor, http://www.mbari.org/data/mbsystem, open source software distributed from the MBARI and LDEO websites.

Caress, D.W., and D.N. Chayes. 1996. Improved processing of Hydrosweep DS multibeam data on the R/V Maurice Ewing. Marine Geophysical Researches 18:631–650, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00313878.

Caress, D.W., D.A. Clague, J.B. Paduan, J. Martin, B. Dreyer, W.W. Chadwick Jr., A. Denny, and D.S. Kelley. 2012. Repeat bathymetric surveys at 1-metre resolution of lava flows erupted at Axial Seamount in April 2011. Nature Geoscience 5(7):483–488, https://doi.org/10.1038/NGEO1496.

Caress, D.W., D.A. Clague, J.B. Paduan, and H. Thomas. 2015. Vertical deformation of the Axial Seamount summit from repeated 1-m scale bathymetric surveys with the MBARI mapping AUV. Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Baltimore, Maryland, November 1–4, 2015, Abstracts with Programs 47(7):381.

Caress, D.W., D.A. Clague, J.B. Paduan, H.J. Thomas, W.W. Chadwick, S.L. Nooner, and D. Yoerger. 2016. Vertical deformation of the Axial Seamount summit from repeated 1-m scale bathymetry surveys using AUVs. American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, San Francisco, December 12–16, 2016, Abstract OS41C-1991.

Caress, D.W., H. Thomas, W.J. Kirkwood, R. McEwen, R. Henthorn, D.A. Clague, C.K. Paull, J. Paduan, and K.L. Maier. 2008. High-resolution multibeam, side​scan, and subbottom surveys using the MBARI AUV D. Allan B. Pp. 47–69 in Marine Habitat Mapping Technology for Alaska. J.R. Reynolds and H.G. Greene, eds, Alaska Sea Grant College Program, University of Alaska Fairbanks, https://doi.org/​10.4027/mhmta.2008.04.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., D.A. Clague, R.W. Embley, M.R. Perfit, D.A. Butterfield. D.W. Caress, J.B. Paduan, J.F. Martin, P. Sasnett, S.G. Merle, and A.M. Bobbitt. 2013. The 1998 eruption of Axial Seamount: New insights on submarine lava flow emplacement from high-​resolution mapping. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14:3,939–3,968, https://doi.org/​10.1002/ggge.20202.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., and R.W. Embley. 1998. Graben formation associated with recent dike intrusions and volcanic eruptions on the mid-ocean ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research 103(B5):9,807–9,825, https://doi.org/10.1029/97JB02485.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., R.W. Embley, and C.G. Fox. 1991. Evidence for volcanic eruption on the southern Juan de Fuca Ridge between 1981 and 1987. Nature 350:416–418, https://doi.org/​10.1038/350416a0.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., R.W. Embley, and T.M. Shank. 1998. The 1996 Gorda Ridge eruption: Geologic mapping, sidescan sonar, and SeaBeam comparison results. Deep Sea Research Part II 45:2,547–2,569, https://doi.org/10.1016/S0967-0645(98)00083-6.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., S.L. Nooner, D.A. Butterfield, and M.D. Lilley. 2012. Seafloor deformation and forecasts of the April 2011 eruption at Axial Seamount. Nature Geoscience 5(7):474–477, https://doi.org/​10.1038/NGEO1464.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., J.B. Paduan, D.A. Clague, B.M. Dreyer, S.G. Merle, A.M. Bobbitt, D.W. Caress, B.T. Philip, D.S. Kelley, and S.L. Nooner. 2016. Voluminous eruption from a zoned magma body after an increase in supply rate at Axial Seamount. Geophysical Research Letters 43:12,063–12,070, https://doi.org/10.1002/2016GL071327.

Chadwick, W.W. Jr., D.S. Scheirer, R.W. Embley, and H.P. Johnson. 2001. High-resolution bathymetric surveys using scanning sonars: Lava flow morphology, hydrothermal vents, and geologic structure at recent eruption sites on the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research 106:16,075–16,099, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2001JB000297.

Clague, D.A., B.M. Dreyer, J.B. Paduan, J.F. Martin, D.W. Caress, J.B. Gill, D.S. Kelley, H. Thomas, R.A. Portner, T.P. Guilderson, and M.L. McGann. 2014. Eruptive and tectonic history of the Endeavour segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge based on AUV mapping and lava flow ages. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 15:1–28, https://doi.org/10.1002/2014GC005415.

Clague, D.A., W.W. Chadwick Jr., A.S. Davis, J.W. Head III, L.G. Mastin, J.B. Paduan, S.L. Ross, L. Wilson, and R.A. Zierenberg. 2005. A new look at the 1996 Gorda Ridge eruption. American Geophysical Union 2005 Fall Meeting Supplement, Abstract T41E-1360.

Clague, D.A., A.S. Davis, and J.E. Dixon. 2003. Submarine strombolian eruptions on the Gorda mid-ocean ridge. In Explosive Subaequeous Volcanism. Geophysical Monograph Series, vol. 140, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC, https://doi.org/10.1029/140GM07.

Clague, D.A., B.M. Dreyer, J.B. Paduan, J.F. Martin, W.W. Chadwick Jr., D.W. Caress, R.A. Portner, T.P. Guilderson, M.L. McGann, D.A. Butterfield, and others. 2013. Geologic history of the summit of Axial Seamount, Juan de Fuca Ridge. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14:4,403–4,443, https://doi.org/​10.1002/​ggge.20240.

Crisp, J.A. 1984. Rates of magma emplacement and volcanic output. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research 20:177–211, https://doi.org/​10.1016/0377-0273(84)90039-8.

Dreyer, B.M., D.A. Clague, and J.B. Gill. 2013. Petrological variability of recent magmatism at Axial Seamount summit, Juan de Fuca Ridge. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14(10):4,306–4,333, https://doi.org/​10.1002/ggge.20239.

Dziak, R.P., and C.G. Fox. 1999. The January 1998 earthquake swarm at Axial Volcano, Juan de Fuca Ridge: Hydroacoustic evidence of seafloor volcanic activity. Geophysical Research Letters 26(23):3,429–3,432, https://doi.org/​10.1029/1999GL002332.

Dziak, R.P., J.H. Haxel, D. Bohnenstiehl, and H. Matsumoto. 2012. Seismic precursors and magma ascent before the April 2011 eruption at Axial Seamount. Nature Geoscience 5:478–482, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1490.

Embley, R.W., and E.T. Baker. 1999. Interdisciplinary group explores seafloor eruption with remotely operated vehicle. Eos, Transactions of the American Geophysical Union 80(19):213–222, https://doi.org/10.1029/99EO00157.

Embley, R.W., W.W. Chadwick Jr., D. Clague, and D. Stakes. 1999. The 1998 eruption of Axial Volcano: Multibeam anomalies and seafloor observations. Geophysical Research Letters 26(23):3,425–2,428, https://doi.org/​10.1029/1999GL002328.

Embley, R.W., W.W. Chadwick Jr., I.R. Jonasson, D.A. Butterfield, and E.T. Baker. 1995. Initial results of the rapid response to the 1993 CoAxial event: Relationships between hydrothermal and volcanic processes. Geophysical Research Letters 22:143–146, https://doi.org/10.1029/​94GL02281.

Embley, R.W., W.W. Chadwick Jr., M.R. Perfit, M.C. Smith, and J.R. Delaney. 2000. Recent eruptions on the CoAxial segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge: Implications for mid-ocean ridge accretion processes. Journal of Geophysical Research 105:16,501–16,525, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2000JB900030.

Fornari, D.J., K.L. Von Damm, J.G. Bryce, J.P. Cowen, V. Ferrini, A. Fundis, M.D. Lilley, G.W. Luther III, L.S. Mullineaux, M.R. Perfit, and others. 2012. The East Pacific Rise between 9°N and 10°N: Twenty-five years of integrated, multidisciplinary oceanic spreading center studies. Oceanography 25(1):18–43, https://doi.org/10.5670/oceanog.2012.02.

Fox, C.G. 1999. In situ ground deformation measurements from the summit of Axial Volcano during the 1998 volcanic episode. Geophysical Research Letters 26(23):3,437–3,440, https://doi.org/​10.1029/1999GL900491.

Fox, C.G., W.W. Chadwick Jr., and R.W. Embley. 1992. Detection of changes in ridge-crest morphology using repeated multibeam surveys. Journal of Geophysical Research 97:11,149–11,162, https://doi.org/​10.1029/92JB00601.

Fox, C.G., W.W. Chadwick, Jr., and R.W. Embley. 2001. Direct observation of a submarine volcanic eruption from a sea-floor instrument caught in a lava flow. Nature 412:727–729, https://doi.org/​10.1038/35089066.

Gregg, T.K.P., and J.H. Fink. 1995. Quantification of submarine lava-flow morphology through analog experiments. Geology 23(1):73–76, https://doi.org/​10.1130/​0091-7613(1995)023​<0073:QOSLFM>​2.3.CO;2.

Griffiths, R.W., and J.H. Fink. 1992. Solidification and morphology of submarine lavas: A dependence on extrusion rate. Journal of Geophysical Research 97:19,729–19,737, https://doi.org/10.1029/​92JB01594.

Helo, C., M.-A. Longpré, N. Shimizu, D.A. Clague, and J. Stix. 2011. Explosive eruptions at midocean ridges driven by CO2-rich magmas. Nature Geoscience 4:260–263, https://doi.org/10.1038/ngeo1104.

Kelley, D.S., J.R. Delaney, W.W. Chadwick Jr., B. Philip, and S.G. Merle. 2015. Axial Seamount 2015 eruption: A 127-m thick, microbially covered lava flow. Paper presented at the fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 14–18, 2005, Abstract OS41B-08.

Kelley, D.S., J.R. Delaney, and S.K. Juniper. 2014. Establishing a new era of submarine volcanic observatories: Cabling Axial Seamount and the Endeavour Segment of the Juan de Fuca Ridge. Marine Geology 352:426–450, https://doi.org/​10.1016/j.margeo.2014.03.010.

Le Saout, M., D.A. Clague, and J.B. Paduan. 2017. Morphological variability of the top of large inflated pillow mounds: Indication about eruptive processes. Paper presented at the Chapman Conference on Submarine Volcanism, Hobart, Australia, January 30–February 3, 2017.

Lockwood, J.P, J.J. Dvorak, T.T. English, R.Y. Koyanagi, A.T. Okamura, M.L. Summers, and W.R. Tanigawa. 1987. Mauna Loa 1974–1984: A decade of intrusive and extrusive activity. Pp. 537–570 in Volcanism in Hawai`i. R.W. Decker, T.L. Wright, and P.H. Stauffer, eds, U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 1350.

MBARI Mapping Team. 2001. Seamounts and Ridges Multibeam Survey, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute Digital Data Series No. 7, 1-CD.

Moore, J.G., D.A. Clague, R.T. Holcomb, P.W. Lipman, W.R. Normark, and M. Torreson. 1989. Prodigious submarine landslides on the Hawaiian Ridge. Journal of Geophysical Research 94:17,465–17,484, https://doi.org/10.1029/JB094iB12p17465.

Nooner, S.L., and W.W. Chadwick Jr. 2009. Volcanic inflation measured in the caldera of Axial Seamount: Implications for magma supply and future eruptions. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 10, Q02002, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2008GC002315.

Nooner, S.L., and W.W. Chadwick Jr. 2016. Inflation-predictable behavior and co-eruption deformation at Axial Seamount. Science 354:1,399–1,403, https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aah4666.

Orr, T.R. 2011. Lava tube shatter rings and their correlation with lava flux increases at Kilauea Volcano, Hawaii. Bulletin of Volcanology 73:335–346, https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-010-0414-3.

Paduan, J.B., D.A. Clague, and D.W. Caress. 2014. Constructional talus: Formed during eruption, not by later tectonism. Paper presented at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union, San Francisco, CA, December 15–19, 2014. Abstract V31B-4742.

Parfitt, E.A., L. Wilson, and C.A. Neal. 1995. Factors influencing the height of Hawaiian lava fountains: Implications for the use of fountain height as an indicator of magma gas content. Bulletin of Volcanology 57:440–450, https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00300988.

Portner, R.A., D.A. Clague, B.D. Dreyer, C. Helo, J.F. Martin, and J.B. Paduan. 2015. Contrasting styles of deep-marine explosive eruptions revealed from Axial Seamount push core records. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 423:219–231, https://doi.org/​10.1016/j.epsl.2015.03.043.

Rubin, K.H., S.A. Soule, W.W. Chadwick Jr., D.J. Fornari, D.A. Clague, R.W. Embley, E.T. Baker, M.R. Perfit, D.W. Caress, and R.P. Dziak. 2012. Volcanic eruptions in the deep sea. Oceanography 25(1):142–157, https://doi.org/​10.5670/oceanog.2012.12.

Soule, S.A., D.J., Fornari, M.R. Perfit, M.A. Tivey, W.I. Ridley, and H. Schouten. 2005. Channelized lava flows at the East Pacific Rise crest 9°–10°N: The importance of off-axis lava transport in developing crustal architecture. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 6, Q08005, https://doi.org/​10.1029/2005GC000912.

White, S.M., K.C. Macdonald, and R.M. Haymon. 2000. Basaltic lava domes, lava lakes, and volcanic segmentation of the southern East Pacific Rise. Journal of Geophysical Research 105(B10):23,519–23,536, https://doi.org/10.1029/2000JB900248.

Wilcock, W.S.D., M. Tolstoy, F. Waldhauser, C. Garcia, Y.J. Tan, D.R. Bohnenstiehl, J. Caplan-Auerbach, R.P. Dziak, A.F. Arnulf, and M.E. Mann. 2016. Seismic constraints on caldera dynamics from the 2015 Axial Seamount eruption. Science 354:1,395–1,399, https://doi.org/10.1126/​science.aah5563.

Yeo, I.A., D.A. Clague, J.F. Martin, J.B. Paduan, and D.W. Caress. 2013. Pre-eruptive flow focussing in dikes feeding historic pillow ridges on the Juan de Fuca and Gorda Ridges. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems 14:3,586–3,599, https://doi.org/10.1002/ggge.20210.