Volcanological study of the middle Miocene Okiduse Volcanic Group, Woodlark Island (Muyuw), eastern Papua

2016-11-09T03:09:10Z (GMT) by I. D. Lindley

Woodlark Island (Muyuw) is located in a tectonically complex region, one of the few places on Earth where continental breakup is occurring ahead of seafloor spreading. Rifting commenced in the late Miocene (8.8–6 Ma) and is associated with the westward-propagating Woodlark Basin Spreading Centre. The island comprises approximately 850 km2 of raised Pleistocene coral reef and associated sediments with a central, moderately elevated range underlain by the middle Miocene calc-alkaline to shoshonitic Okiduse Volcanic Group (new name). It provides an exposure of upper Cenozoic geology in close proximity to the spreading centre. The Okiduse Volcanic Group is host to most of the island's historical gold and silver production and recently defined mineral resources totalling 1.75 Moz gold. This study uses facies analysis of pyroclastic deposits to develop a detailed geological map of the Okiduse Volcanic Group, with a revision and reinterpretation of the unit. Facies associations suggest that two major volcanic centres erupted synchronously during the middle Miocene (14–12 Ma), referred to as the Watou Mountain Eruptive Centre (new name) and the Uvarakoi Caldera (new name). The mafic–intermediate Watou Mountain Eruptive Centre formed during frequent small eruptions of widely varying style. Strombolian, subplinian, vulcanian and dome-related explosive eruptions occurred, alternating with extrusion of block and ash flow deposits and lava domes. Pyroclastic deposits were rapidly reworked from the steep cone, and were redeposited in a series of coalescing aprons surrounding the volcano. The felsic Uvarakoi Caldera formed during a series of violent explosive eruptions by rapid removal of magma from the underlying chamber, followed by collapse. Plinian and possibly phreatoplinian eruptions, as a result of magma–water mixing in the surface environment, resulted in widely dispersed, highly fragmented tuff deposits. The caldera was modified by widespread erosion following eruptions, resulting in fluvial, laharic and slope-wash deposits. This study highlights lithological controls (porosity and permeability) by various units within the Okiduse Volcanic Group on ore deposition.