Our ability to investigate both the intrusive and extrusive parts of individual volcanoes has evolved with the increasing quality of seismic reflection datasets. Today, new seismic data and methods of seismic interpretation offer a unique opportunity to observe the entire architecture and stratigraphy of volcanic systems, with resolution down to tens of meters. This chapter summarises the methods used to extract the geomorphic aspects and spatio-temporal organisation of volcanic systems buried in sedimentary basins, with emphasis on the utility of 3D seismic reflection volumes. Based on descriptions and interpretations from key localities worldwide, we propose classification of buried volcanoes into three main geomorphic categories: (1) clusters of small-volume (<1 km3) craters and cones, (2) large (>5 km3) composite, shield and caldera volcanoes, and (3) voluminous lava fields (>10,000 km3). Our classification primarily describes the morphology, size and distribution of eruptive centres of buried volcanoes, and is independent of parameters such as the magma composition, tectonic setting, or eruption environment. The close correlation between the morphology of buried and modern volcanoes provides the basis for constructing realistic models for the facies distribution of igneous systems buried in sedimentary strata, establishing the principles for a new discipline of seismic-reflection volcanology.
Part of the book: Updates in Volcanology