David A. Clague


Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute

7700 Sandholdt Road

Moss Landing, CA 95039

Phone: (831) 775-1781


Dave’s research interests are nearly all related to the formation and degradation of oceanic volcanoes, particularly Hawaiian volcanoes, mid-ocean ridges, and isolated seamounts. Topics of interest include: compositions of mantle sources for basaltic magmas and conditions of melting; development and evolution of magma chambers beneath spreading centers and Hawaiian volcanoes; volatile and rare-gas components in basaltic magmas and their degassing history; chronostratigraphic studies of eruption sequence and evolution of lava chemistry during volcano growth; subsidence of ocean volcanoes and its related crustal flexure, plate deformation, and magmatic activity; formation of cumulate xenoliths during different stages of Hawaiian volcanism; transport of volcaniclastic sediment on submarine slopes of volcanoes; geologic setting of hydrothermal activity; origin of isolated seamounts; monitoring of magmatic, tectonic, and hydrothermal activity at submarine and subaerial volcanoes; emplacement dynamics of subaerial and submarine lava flows; slope instability on volcanoes.

  • Curriculum vitae
  • Recent Publications
  • Expedition experience
  • MBARI cruise logs – daily reports from sea
Classic example of a pit and pillar feature from Endeavour Ridge.

Mid-ocean ridges

The great majority of the Earth's volcanism occurs at spreading centers, most of which are under the ocean, forming the mid-ocean ridge system where new ocean crust is being created.
Thick manganese-oxide crusts precipitated from hydrothermal fluids when the volcano was active and from seawater over time since, making it hard to discern the original rock textures.


Many chains of seamounts (submerged mountains) are of hot spot or subduction arc origin. However, some intraplate seamounts have different origins. Near-ridge seamounts erupted near the axes of mid-ocean ridges onto recently derived oceanic crust.

Margin processes

Our continental margin is being deformed by the generally strike-slip motion of the San Andreas fault, as the Pacific plate moves north-west relative to the North American plate, carrying the sliver of coastal California with it.
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Hot spot research

The Hawaiian Islands and Emperor Seamount chain of volcanoes are the product of a mantle hot spot in the middle of the Pacific Plate.