Scopes of the IAVCEI Commission on Monogenetic Volcanism

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The term monogenetic as applied to volcanic systems carries with it the concept of eruptions of batches of magma within short timescales. Monogenetic volcanism is commonly expressed as clusters of individual volcanoes forming fields of small cones which are a consequence of dispersed plumbing systems feeding discrete batches of magma to the Earth's surface. Beyond this relatively simple concept there is a wide range of temporal, spatial and compositional variables. In proposing this IAVCEI commission on monogenetic volcanism we seek to provide a forum to more clearly define and understand the phenomenon of small scale magmatic systems and their surficial expression as volcano fields The primary aim of the proposed Commission on Monogenetic Volcanism is to take leading role to facilitate, coordinate and focus research and research outputs in regard to monogentic volcanism and to develop a unified model of this type of volcanism.

The defining characteristics of monogenetic magmatic systems are a dispersed plumbing system (producing fields of small volcanoes rather than single structures, and very low rates of magma production. The eruption duration of an individual volcano of a volcanic field is generally short (<10 years) but the life of the entire volcanic field is commonly longer than the average lifetime of a composite volcano (e.g. strato-volcano). The total magmatic output of an individual volcano of a volcanic field is typically 1-3 orders of magnitude less than a total magmatic output of a composite volcano. The total magmatic output of a volcanic field is typically also very small in comparison with composite volcanoes.

Monogenetic volcanoes are considered to erupt only once, and are short-lived. However, recent studies have demonstrated that the general architecture of a monogenetic volcano can be very complex, and involve longer eruption durations than expected. In this way, monogenetic volcanic fields in general should be viewed as a complex, long lasting volcanic system that is in many respects similar to composite volcanoes. This scientific background on monogenetic volcanism justifies the need of targeted researches to understand the deep, shallow, and surface processes associated with monogenetic volcanism from magma generation to erosion of the volcanic landforms.

Basic scientific questions, such as the monogenetic nature of these commonly small-volume, small magma output volcanoes are currently frontline research subjects showing growing evidence to develop a more suitable and united model for the formation of these volcanoes from an interdisciplinary perspective. The proposed commission under the umbrella of the IAVCEI would serve a mediating and facilitating role in this scientific process as well as provide an interface to disseminate fragmented research effort to be possible to view in a broader perspective.

The volcanic landforms associated with monogenetic volcanism are very diverse, and include volcanoes such as maars that are alone provide research subjects from very diverse research fields such as experimental volcanology, geophysical researches, pyroclastic sedimentology, reworking processes, lacustrine sedimentation, paleontology and climatic studies. This complexity is the key to provide a forum for researchers working on seemingly distant fields to share their results and expertise connecting them via a very specific, but very common volcanic landform. Similarly, scoria cones which are no doubt the most common volcanic landforms in the Solar system can link together a very broad range of research topics that could be managed, and facilitated by the newly established commission.

Monogenetic volcanic fields are also bear significant economic resources, most importantly diamond bearing kimberlites as well as gold-hosting diatreme breccias. Research projects targeting understanding kimberlite volcanism are growing, and have resulted in significant petrology-based assumptions that need to be connected, evaluated and tested against experimentally proven phreatomagmatic processes. The conflict between the two existing models for explaining kimberlite volcanism currently is frontline research. To find a general agreement and therefore come up with a more realistic model for diatreme formation in variable composition magmatism is presently hindered by the fragmental manner by which information has been gained over the past few decades. The commission would provide a valuable link between these separated research efforts as well as providing fresh research results to the whole community working on monogenetic volcanism.

Volcanic hazards in monogenetic volcanic fields have been studied in many way during the past decade, however, the volcanic risk these volcanoes pose to the living and non-living environment, including man-made ones, are increasing due to the population increase in areas where monogenetic volcanoes exist (e.g. Auckland, Managua City, Mexico City). This new aspect of research on monogenetic volcanoes has never been more important than today. The proposed commission would look for links to end-users (e.g. city councils, national disaster management bodies) to provide scientific information background on potential hazards and risk based on a more detailed understanding of monogenetic volcanism.

Monogenetic volcanic fields are a vital part of the surface manifestation of magmatism of the Earth. The long duration of a whole volcanic field makes this type of volcanism important in respect of sedimentary basin evolution. The accumulated eruptive products may not be significant from a single volcano, but as a volcanic field can contribute significant sediment input to a sedimentary basin. The long eruptive history of a volcanic field can span millions of years, during which time dramatic climatic and paleoenvironmental changes can take place. The systematic study of individual volcanoes of a volcanic field can help to draw a detailed paleoenvironmental as well as paleogeographic reconstructions and erosion rate estimates.

Monogenetic volcanic fields are commonly important touristic locations. The relatively "compact" nature of the small volume volcanoes grouped in a volcanic field provides an exceptional opportunity to demonstrate very diverse volcanism related processes to the general public. The proposed commission wishes to take leading role in this process, providing transparent web-based ideas on educational methodology, pedagogy and basic scientific knowledge transfers.

The commission will use web-based interaction, mailing lists, and a more personalized communication style to achieve the above mentioned goals. The commission would stand behind the International Maar Conference series, that would be gradually transferred to be a major IAVCEI event on researches into monogenetic volcanism; e.g. International Maar Conference: An Interdisciplinary Congress on Monogenetic Volcanism.

The commission intends to rotate leadership at 3-4 year intervals during International Maar Conference events. The commission plans to function non-profit, facilitating IAVCEI membership subscription growth as well as sustainability, however, strategic plans to gain minimal support from Industry (diamond, gold, raw material) is on the planning agenda. Such support would allow opportunities for the commission to act as a true supporting body for research activities, publications, conference organization support or awards for professionals and/or students.

As a reflection of the need to form a Commission on Monogenetic Volcanism is well-demonstrated by the fact that research outputs in top ranking research journals dealing with any aspects of monogenetic volcanism at least tripled in the past 5 years. Moreover not only the number of research output increased, but also the diversity of approaches, methods, target fields, and the location of emerging research groups from regions previously not considered to be part of the main stream research groups. These increased number and diversity associated with monogenetic volcanism-related researches justify clearly the logical step to form and run a commission that could based on ideas coming from its supporters.