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  Expedition 340 - IODP

Understanding the formation and destruction of volcanos within the Lesser Antilles island arc

The IODP 340 expedition is an oceanographic survey, which was conducted from March 3rd to April 17th, 2012, on the R/V JOIDES Resolution.

Notably, resulting data are utilised as part of the ANR Carib project.


The main purpose of this IODP project is to provide an extensive record of eruptive activity and volcanoclastic sedimentation from the volcanic complexes that were the most active in the Lesser Antilles arc during the past million years.


Location of drilling sites.

The arc of the Lesser Antilles is made of a large number of volcanic edifices, among which twelve at least have been active during the past 10.000 years. The main characteristics of these volcanic edifices are the unique variety of their magmatic composition, as well as the diversity of their eruptive styles throughout the arc, which differ significantly from north to south. In the southern section of the arc for instance, large destabilizations have occurred, while in the northern one, much smaller volumes have been involved (Boudon and al., 2007). It is likely that the variations in sedimentation rates and volcanic productivity between the north and the south are also related to the arc's morphology and formation.


Volcanic activity in Martinique, Dominica and Montserrat reflects the main processes and time scales of volcanism in the Antilles arc. Even now, these volcanoes, which have notoriously recorded exceptional levels of destabilization, are unstable and bear high risks for the people of the Antilles, given that the population is mainly concentrated near the coasts.



Montserrat dome collapse in 2003.

As a result of the arc's dissymmetry, the drilling sites have been strategically selected around three locations: The northern part of Montserrat (where the Soufrière Hills volcano has been active since 1995), Martinique (with its well-known Mount Pelée), and Dominica (where numerous eruptive centres are considered to be active, and have produced significant major Plinian eruptions).





Download the expedition's educational booklet.





English page translated by M2 ILTS, Université Paris Diderot and Systran