A large explosive silicic eruption in the British Palaeogene Igneous Province

Valentin R Troll, C Henry Emeleus, Graeme R Nicoll, Tobias Mattsson, Robert M Ellam, Colin H Donaldson, Chris Harris

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Large-volume pyroclastic eruptions are not known from the basalt-dominated British Palaeogene Igneous Province (BPIP), although silicic magmatism is documented from intra-caldera successions in central volcanoes and from small-volume ash-layers in the associated lava fields. Exceptions are the Sgùrr of Eigg (58.7 Ma) and Òigh-sgeir pitchstones in the Inner Hebrides (>30 km apart), which have been conjectured to represent remnants of a single large silicic event. Currently available major element data from these outcrops differ, however, creating a need to test if the two pitchstones are really related. We employ a systematic array of methods ranging from mineralogy to isotope geochemistry and find that samples from the two outcrops display identical mineral textures and compositions, major- and trace elements, and Sr-Nd-Pb-O isotope ratios, supporting that the two outcrops represent a single, formerly extensive, pyroclastic deposit. Available isotope constraints suggest a vent in the Hebridean Terrane and available radiometric ages point to Skye, ~40 km to the North. A reconstructed eruption volume of ≥5km3 DRE is derived, suggesting a VEI 5 event or larger. We therefore argue, contrary to long-held perception, that large-volume silicic volcanism and its associated climatic effects were likely integral to the BPIP during the opening of the North Atlantic.
Original languageEnglish
Article number494
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Early online date24 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2019


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