Hydrothermal Alteration on Composite Volcanoes: Mineralogy, Hyperspectral Imaging, and Aeromagnetic Study of Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand

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Abstract

Prolonged volcanic activity can induce surface weathering and hydrothermal alteration that is a primary control on edifice instability, posing a complex hazard with its challenges to accurately forecast and mitigate. This study uses a frequently active composite volcano, Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand, to develop a conceptual model of surface weathering and hydrothermal alteration applicable to long-lived composite volcanoes. The alteration on Mt Ruapehu was classified using ground samples as non-altered, supergene argillic, intermediate argillic, and advanced argillic. The first two classes have a paragenesis that is consistent with surficial infiltration and circulation of low-temperature (<40°C) neutral to mildly acidic fluids, inducing chemical weathering and formation of weathering rims on rock surfaces. The intermediate and advanced argillic alteration formed from hotter (≥100°C) hydrothermal fluids with lower pH, interacting with the andesitic to dacitic host rocks. The distribution of weathering and hydrothermal alteration has been mapped with airborne hyperspectral imaging through image classification, while aeromagnetic data inversion was used to map alteration to up to 500-m depth. The joint use of hyperspectral imaging complements the geophysical methods since it can spectrally identify hydrothermal alteration mineralogy. This study established a conceptual model of hydrothermal alteration history of Mt Ruapehu, exemplifying a long-lived and nested active and ancient hydrothermal system. This study's combination approach can be used to indicate the most likely sources of future debris avalanches, which are a significant hazard on Ruapehu.

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Kereszturi, G., Schaefer, L. N., Miller, C., & Mead, S. (2020). Hydrothermal Alteration on Composite Volcanoes: Mineralogy, Hyperspectral Imaging, and Aeromagnetic Study of Mt Ruapehu, New Zealand. Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems, 21(9). https://doi.org/10.1029/2020GC009270

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