Tristan da Cunha

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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 37.092°S
  • 12.28°W

  • 2060 m
    6757 ft

  • 386010
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

The Global Volcanism Program has no activity reports for Tristan da Cunha.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Tristan da Cunha.

The Global Volcanism Program has no Bulletin Reports available for Tristan da Cunha.

Tristan da Cunha is a 13-km-wide island volcano lying about 500 km east of the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge just south of the latitudes of Buenos Aires and Cape Town. The 2060-m-high shield volcano is bounded on most sides by high cliffs. Lava flows dominate both the low-angle base and the steep upper flanks, although pyroclastic cones ringing the central cone are scattered around the lower flanks. Eruptions have occurred from the 300-m-wide summit crater, Queen Mary's Peak, which contains a small lake, and from numerous flank vents, some of which occurred from radial fissures. Radial dike swarms are prominently exposed on all sides of the island. Numerous strombolian cinder cones occur on the flanks of the volcano along both concentric ring structures and NNW- and ENE-trending radial fissures. The only historical eruption on Tristan da Cunha occurred during 1961 from a northshore vent and forced the evacuation of the island's only settlement.

Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).

Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
1961 Oct 10 1962 Mar 15 Confirmed 2 Historical Observations North flank
1700 ± 50 years Unknown Confirmed   Tephrochronology South flank

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.



Cones
Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Big Green Hill Cinder cone
Burnthill Cinder cone
Cave Gulch Hill Cinder cone
Hill Piece Tuff cone
Kipuka Hill Cinder cone
Nellie's Hump Cinder cone
Olaf Cone
Queen Mary Cinder cone 2060 m 37° 5' 28" S 12° 17' 0" W
Stony Beach Hills Cinder cone
Stony Hill Group Cinder cone


Domes
Feature Name Feature Type Elevation Latitude Longitude
Stony Hill Dome
The HMS Challenger lies off Tristan da Cunha island in this 1878 plate from "The Voyage of the Challenger." This converted military vessel was outfitted for scientific surveys and circumnavigated the globe during a three and half year journey. A central volcano rises above steep coastal cliffs that truncate lava flows. Pyroclastic cones dot the flanks of the volcano.

Plate from Thomson, 1878 (courtesy of NOAA Photo Library).
The SW side of Tristan da Cunha volcano rises above the southern Atlantic seas. The 2060-m-high summit cone towers above high cliffs that bound most sides of the 13-km-wide island. Lava flows dominate both the low-angle base and the steep upper flanks, although pyroclastic cones ringing the central cone are scattered around the lower flanks. The only historical eruption on Tristan da Cunha occurred during 1961 from a northshore vent and forced the evacuation of the island's only settlement.

Photo by Vicky Hards, 2004 (British Geological Survey, copyrighted NERC).
A lava flow extends to the sea from a small lava dome formed during the first historical eruption of Tristan da Cunha in 1961-1962. The flow is seen here from the SW with the island's only habited area, the village of Settlement (Edinburgh of the Seven Seas), in the foreground. The eruption began on October 10, 1961 and prompted the evacuation of the island's entire population to England. The eruption ended on March 15, 1962, and resettlement began in September of that year.

Photo by Vicky Hards, 2004 (British Geological Survey, copyrighted NERC).
This pumice block, with a one-pound coin for scale, was collected from the sea surface near Tristan da Cunha on August 3, 2004. An earthquake swarm lasting 6 hours beginning on July 29, 2004 was followed by the observation of large blocks of floating pumice. The event was considered to have originated from rising magma 25 km SE of Tristan.

Photo by Vicky Hards, 2004 (British Geological Survey, copyrighted NERC).

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography. Discussion of another volcano or eruption (sometimes far from the one that is the subject of the manuscript) may produce a citation that is not at all apparent from the title.

Baker P E, Gass I G, Harris P G, LeMaitre R W, 1964. Vulcanological report on the Royal Society expedition to Tristan de Cunha. Phil Trans Roy Soc London, 256: 439-578.

Chevallier L, Verwoerd W J, 1987. A dynamic interpretation of Tristan da Cunha volcano, South Atlantic Ocean. J Volc Geotherm Res, 34: 35-49.

IAVCEI, 1973-80. Post-Miocene Volcanoes of the World. IAVCEI Data Sheets, Rome: Internatl Assoc Volc Chemistry Earth's Interior..

Neumann van Padang M, Richards A F, Machado F, Bravo T, Baker P E, Le Maitre R W, 1967. Atlantic Ocean. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 21: 1-128.

Volcano Types

Shield
Pyroclastic cone(s)
Lava dome(s)

Tectonic Setting

Rift zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Rock Types

Major
Trachybasalt / Tephrite Basanite
Basalt / Picro-Basalt
Trachyandesite / Basaltic trachy-andesite
Trachyte / Trachyandesite
Minor
Phonolite

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
12
12
12
32

Affiliated Databases

Large Eruptions of Tristan da Cunha Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
Smithsonian Collections Search the Smithsonian's NMNH Department of Mineral Sciences collections database. Go to the "Search Rocks and Ores" tab and use the Volcano Name drop-down to find samples.