Eruptions along the length of the field began between 1.6 and 5.3 million years ago. At least 23 eruptions have occurred throughout its eruptive history. This volcanic activity ranged from effusive to explosive, with magma compositions ranging from basaltic to rhyolitic. Because the Mount Cayley volcanic field has a high elevation and consists of a cluster of mostly high altitude, non-overlapping volcanoes, subglacial activity is likely to have occurred under less than 800 m (2,600 ft) of glacial ice. The style of this glaciation promoted meltwater escape during eruptions. The steep profile of the volcanic field and its subglacial landforms support this hypothesis. As a result, volcanic features in the field that interacted with glacial ice lack rocks that display evidence of abundant water during eruption, such as hyaloclastite and pillow lava.