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Lava-sediment interaction in desert settings; are all peperite-like textures the result of magma-water interaction?

Jerram, D.A; Stollhofen, H


D.A Jerram

H Stollhofen


This study reports on lava–sediment interaction in dry depositional settings focusing on the Early Cretaceous volcano-sedimentary sequence in the Huab Basin, NW Namibia, as a detailed example. Here an active aeolian sand sea (erg) system was progressively engulfed by lavas of the Etendeka Flood Basalt Province 133 Ma BP. This volcanic flooding resulted in: (1) the unprecedented preservation of large parts of the active dune system; (2) the development of a variety of sediment interlayers; and (3) a record of excellent examples of the dynamic interaction between lava and aeolian sand. The lava–sediment interaction happens on a variety of scales from simple sediment interbeds within the lavas at a large scale down to complex breccia horizons and bulbous lava–sediment contacts at small scales. ‘Peperite’ like textures are found where hot lava has dynamically interacted with unconsolidated aeolian sands. Such interaction could involve lava cascading down the front of dune faces, or active ‘aa’ style flow fronts ‘bulldozing’ into and oversteepening dune faces causing rapid influx of sand into the active flow front. Resulting breccia horizons have been found up to 5 m thick. Locally, the aeolian sand is baked to a quartzite by the hot lava. In contrast, on other surfaces, the lava leaves striations in the sand as it flows across it indicating local flow directions and less pronounced interaction. In places, wind ripples and topset beds are preserved on the stoss side of the dune indicating the passive nature of emplacement for some of the lava flows. Peperites are often thought to form due to the presence of water within the unconsolidated sediments that the juvenile magma comes into contact with. However, examples from arid environments demonstrate that peperite-forming processes are diverse and may not always require water. Therefore, it is suggested that the term peperite should be used to describe deposits consisting of sediments mixed with juvenile magmatic components where it is clear that there has been a dynamic interaction between the two. This leaves the presence, or lack, of water as an issue for interpreting the processes by which the peperite formed.


Jerram, D., & Stollhofen, H. (2002). Lava-sediment interaction in desert settings; are all peperite-like textures the result of magma-water interaction?. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 114(1-2), 231-249.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 15, 2002
Deposit Date Mar 15, 2007
Journal Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Print ISSN 0377-0273
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 114
Issue 1-2
Pages 231-249
Keywords Peperite, Lava, Sediment interaction, Aeolian, Etendeka, Namibia.