Pleistocene - Holocene volcanism at the Karkar geothermal prospect, Armenia

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Khachatur Meliksetian, Iain Neill , Dan N. Barfod, Eilidh Milne, Emma Waters, Gevorg Navasardyan, Edmond Grigoryan, Valerie Olive, Nicholas Odling, Arkady Karakhanian


Quaternary volcanic centres north of the Bitlis-Zagros suture in Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus represent both volcanic hazards and potential or actual geothermal energy resources. Such challenges and opportunities cannot be fully quantified without understanding these volcanoes’ petrogenesis, geochronology and magmatic, tectonic or other eruption triggers. In this preliminary study, we discuss the age and geology of the Karkar monogenetic volcanic field in Syunik, SE Armenia. The ~70 km2 field is close to Armenia’s only geothermal energy test drilling site. Fissure-fed trachybasaltic andesite to trachyandesite lavas erupted on a trans-tensional segment of the Syunik branch of the Pambak-Sevan-Syunik Fault, where previous studies suggested a Holocene age for the youngest eruptions. Here, high-resolution duplicate 40Ar/39Ar dating of 7 groundmass separates provided composite plateau or inverse isochron ages ranging from 6 ± 3 ka and 8 ± 3 ka to 332 ± 9 ka (2). Each lava flow displays petrographic and whole rock geochemical patterns consistent with melting of subduction-modified lithospheric mantle and extensive evolution within the crust involving fractional crystallisation and mixing of magma batches. Data confirm that volcanic activity in Syunik and also Vardenis provinces overlapped with Palaeolithic to Bronze Age human occupation and remains a minor lava inundation hazard. Further geochemical work will allow constraint of the depth and timescales of magma storage. Both Karkar and the area around Porak volcano, which lies 35 km N of Karkar on the Syunik Fault, might be considered for future geothermal energy developments.



Earth Sciences, Geochemistry, Geology, Other Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Volcanology


geochemistry, Geothermal energy, Ar/Ar geochronology, Armenia, Hazards, Monogenetic volcanism


Published: 2020-01-22 20:57

Last Updated: 2020-08-20 12:25

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