Tseax Cone

Tseax Cone

Infobox Mountain
Name=Tseax Cone
Elevation=Unit m|600|0
Location=British Columbia, Canada
Range=Nass Ranges
Prominence =
Coordinates = coord|55|06|39|N|128|53|56|W|type:mountain_region:CA
NTS 103J/2
Type=Cinder cone
Volcanic_Arc/Belt=Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province
Last eruption=18th century (15th deadliest eruption of all time)
First ascent=
Easiest route=drive

The Tseax Cone, also called the Tseax River Cone or the Aiyansh Volcano (pron. "SEE-aks Cone") , is a young cinder cone and adjacent lava flows associated with the Nass Ranges and the Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province. It is located east of Crater Creek at outlet of Melita Lake, southeast of Gitlakdamix and Unit km|60|0 north of Terrace, British Columbia, Canada. The volcano is situated in a valley above and east of the Tseax River, about Unit km|20|0 south of the river's junction with the larger Nass River. It is one of the most accessible volcanic centers in British Columbia.


The Tseax Cone has been the site of some of the youngest volcanic eruptions in Canada. [VNUM|1=1200-10- Retrieved on 2008-02-26] It has been active at least twice in the past few hundred years and other remnants of lava flows exist in the area. It is Unit m|290|0 in diameter at its base and rests on the remnants of an earlier and somewhat larger, dissected, Unit m|460|0 diameter cone. The volcano is made of volcanic bombs and cinders with a crater at its summit where a churning lava lake ponded and overflowed its rim during the 18th century. [http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/bcparks/explore/parkpgs/nisgaa.html Nisga'a Memorial Lava Beds Provincial Park] Retrieved on 2008-02-13]

Volcanism at the Tseax Cone is caused by the rifting of the Earth's crust where two parts of the North American Plate are breaking apart. The cause of this rifting is the result of the Pacific Plate sliding northward along the Queen Charlotte Fault, on its way to the Aleutian Trench. [ [http://gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/volcanoes/cat/belt_stikine_e.php Catalogue of Canadian volcanoes – Stikine volcanic belt] Retrieved on 2008-02-13]

The lava emitted in eruptions at the Tseax Cone is fluid. Its lavas are made of basalt, a common grey to black or dark brown extrusive volcanic rock high in silica content (the lava is mafic) that is usually fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava on the Earth's surface. Pāhoehoe is found at the volcano, which have a smooth, billowy, undulating, or ropy surface. A pāhoehoe flow typically advances as a series of small lodes and toes that continually break out from a cooled crust. [http://www.geology.sdsu.edu/how_volcanoes_work/Basaltic_lava.html Basaltic Lava] Retrieved on 2008-02-13] It also forms lava tubes where the minimal heat loss maintains low viscosity. However, there is also basaltic lava at the volcano characterized by a rough or rubby surface composed of clinker called 'a'ā. The clinkery surface actually covers a massive dense core, which is the most active part of the flow. As pasty lava in the core travels downslope, the clinkers are carried along at the surface.

18th century eruption

The Tseax Cone was the source for a major lava flow eruption around the years 1750 or 1775 that travelled into the Tseax River, damming it and forming Lava Lake. The flow subsequently travelled Unit km|11|0 north to the Nass River, where it filled the flat valley floor for an additional Unit km|10|0, making the entire lava flow approximately Unit km|22.5|0 long.

The Nass River valley contains abundant tree casts and lava tubes. The tree casts were formed when the hot lava flow burned out tree trunks leaving holes in the lava. Lava tubes formed when the low-viscosity hot alkali basaltic lava travelled beneath the surface which eventually flowed out leaving the crust as the roof and walls of the tubes.

Native legends of the Nisga'a people tell of a prolonged period of disruption by the volcano, including the destruction of two Nisga'a villages. [ [http://atlas.nrcan.gc.ca/site/english/maps/enviroment/naturalhazards/volcanoes/1 The Atlas of Canada – Volcanoes] Retrieved on 2008-02-13] Several Nisga'a people dug pits for shelter but approximately 2,000 Nisga'a people died due to volcanic gases and poisonous smoke (most likely carbon dioxide). The Nisga'a story of the destruction, Canada's worst known geophysical disaster. [ [http://www.bcminerals.ca/pdf/CanadianVolcanoes-CH2005.pdf Volcanoes of Canada] Retrieved on 2008-04-20] The lava beds, which reach Unit m|12|0 above the road in some places, are the burial ground of these people. It is the only eruption in Canada for which legends of First Nations people have been verified. [http://gsc.nrcan.gc.ca/volcanoes/cat/volcano_e.php?id=svb_tsx_107 Geological Survey of Canada: Tseax Cone] Retrieved on 2008-02-13] The lava flow can also be found near modern Nisga'a villages, such as Gitlakdamix. This eruption is just one of hundreds that have modified the landscape of western Canada over the past million years.

Future and present

As of 1993, the volcano quietly rests in the 17,683-hectare Nisga'a Memorial Lava Beds Provincial Park. But the Tseax Cone could reawaken at any time. Before the 18th century eruption, the volcano erupted in 1325. [ [http://volcano.und.edu/vwdocs/Gases/dead.html Deadly Gases] Retrieved on 2008-02-13] The gases emitted by the volcano are evidence that the volcano is still active and potentially dangerous. Signs of unrest will almost certainly precede any future eruptive activity from the Tseax Cone, and its past activity is an extremely important factor for hazard assessment.

If the Tseax Cone erupts again, there may be a repeat of the poisonous gas disaster (as happened to the Nisga'a people). It could cause forest fires and could potentially dam local rivers (as happened to the Tseax and Nass River) if the volume of the lava flows are large enough. If the lava flows again reach the Nass River, it could have disastrous short-term consequences for the important salmon fisheries on the Nass River system. The people who live in the region will have no knowledge of the dangers of the Tseax Cone if it erupts again. Because of the knowledge of this previous disaster, modern monitoring would include studies of the gases emitted by the volcano and a warning to people living downslope from the volcano.

During the early 1990s, two helicopters and ground crews with rakes worked hard to put out a lava bed fire. This fire was not from the volcano erupting again, but from dried moss and lichens that were ignited and burning freely.

ee also

*Northern Cordilleran Volcanic Province
*List of volcanoes in Canada
*Volcanism in Canada
*List of disasters in Canada
*List of Canadian disasters by death toll
*List of natural disasters by death toll


External links

* [http://volcano.und.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/north_america/canada/Final-Tseax.html Volcano World]
* [http://ilmbwww.gov.bc.ca/bcgn-bin/bcg10?name=40915 BCGNIS Geographic Name Details: Tseax Cone]

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