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Importance of volcanic glass alteration to sediment stabilization: offshore Japan



A minor amount (ca 1 wt%) of amorphous silica cement sourced from volcanic glass inhibits consolidation of hemipelagic sediment approaching the Nankai Trough subduction zone throughout the Shikoku Basin. The distribution and nature of the cement were examined via secondary and backscattered electron imaging. The amorphous silica occurs as altered material in contact with volcanic glass, coating grains (including grain contacts) and filling pores. Based on chemical and petrographic evidence, the cement is probably sourced from volcanic glass; this is in contrast to a previous suggestion that this silica cement is sourced dominantly from biogenic silica. Amorphous silica sourced from disseminated volcanic glass shards has the ability to form a thin coating on clay-dominated sediment throughout the Shikoku Basin. Measured amorphous silica content in hemipelagic sediments suggests that the cementing process is active throughout the Shikoku Basin (at sites separated by >500 km). The cementation process may occur in other locations where sediment containing hydrated disseminated volcanic glass is buried sufficiently for heat to facilitate alteration (i.e. Central America, Cascadia and the Gulf of Alaska).