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Concept: Ignimbrite


Polar ice core records attest to a colossal volcanic eruption that took place ca. A.D. 1257 or 1258, most probably in the tropics. Estimates based on sulfate deposition in these records suggest that it yielded the largest volcanic sulfur release to the stratosphere of the past 7,000 y. Tree rings, medieval chronicles, and computational models corroborate the expected worldwide atmospheric and climatic effects of this eruption. However, until now there has been no convincing candidate for the mid-13th century “mystery eruption.” Drawing upon compelling evidence from stratigraphic and geomorphic data, physical volcanology, radiocarbon dating, tephra geochemistry, and chronicles, we argue the source of this long-sought eruption is the Samalas volcano, adjacent to Mount Rinjani on Lombok Island, Indonesia. At least 40 km(3) (dense-rock equivalent) of tephra were deposited and the eruption column reached an altitude of up to 43 km. Three principal pumice fallout deposits mantle the region and thick pyroclastic flow deposits are found at the coast, 25 km from source. With an estimated magnitude of 7, this event ranks among the largest Holocene explosive eruptions. Radiocarbon dates on charcoal are consistent with a mid-13th century eruption. In addition, glass geochemistry of the associated pumice deposits matches that of shards found in both Arctic and Antarctic ice cores, providing compelling evidence to link the prominent A.D. 1258/1259 ice core sulfate spike to Samalas. We further constrain the timing of the mystery eruption based on tephra dispersal and historical records, suggesting it occurred between May and October A.D. 1257.

Concepts: Ignimbrite, Carbon, Lombok, Volcanoes, Pyroclastic flow, Ice core, Volcano, Volcanology


Caldera-forming eruptions of island volcanoes generate tsunamis by the interaction of different eruptive phenomena with the sea. Such tsunamis are a major hazard, but forward models of their impacts are limited by poor understanding of source mechanisms. The caldera-forming eruption of Santorini in the Late Bronze Age is known to have been tsunamigenic, and caldera collapse has been proposed as a mechanism. Here, we present bathymetric and seismic evidence showing that the caldera was not open to the sea during the main phase of the eruption, but was flooded once the eruption had finished. Inflow of water and associated landsliding cut a deep, 2.0-2.5 km(3), submarine channel, thus filling the caldera in less than a couple of days. If, as at most such volcanoes, caldera collapse occurred syn-eruptively, then it cannot have generated tsunamis. Entry of pyroclastic flows into the sea, combined with slumping of submarine pyroclastic accumulations, were the main mechanisms of tsunami production.

Concepts: Caldera, Volcanology, Ignimbrite, Flood, Bronze Age, Tsunami, Volcano, Santorini


Explosive volcanic super-eruptions of several hundred cubic kilometres or more generate long run-out pyroclastic density currents the dynamics of which are poorly understood and controversial. Deposits of one such event in the southwestern USA, the 18.8 Ma Peach Spring Tuff, were formed by pyroclastic flows that travelled >170 km from the eruptive centre and entrained blocks up to ∼70-90 cm diameter from the substrates along the flow paths. Here we combine these data with new experimental results to show that the flow’s base had high-particle concentration and relatively modest speeds of ∼5-20 m s(-1), fed by an eruption discharging magma at rates up to ∼10(7)-10(8) m(3) s(-1) for a minimum of 2.5-10 h. We conclude that sustained high-eruption discharge and long-lived high-pore pressure in dense granular dispersion can be more important than large initial velocity and turbulent transport with dilute suspension in promoting long pyroclastic flow distance.

Concepts: Pyroclastic surge, Volcanic rocks, Velocity, Ignimbrite, Volcanology, Pyroclastic rock, Pyroclastic flow, Volcano


Pumice rafts are floating mobile accumulations of low-density pumice clasts generated by silicic volcanic eruptions. Pumice in rafts can drift for years, become waterlogged and sink, or become stranded on shorelines. Here we show that the pumice raft formed by the impressive, deep submarine eruption of the Havre caldera volcano (Southwest Pacific) in July 2012 can be mapped by satellite imagery augmented by sailing crew observations. Far from coastal interference, the eruption produced a single >400 km(2) raft in 1 day, thus initiating a gigantic, high-precision, natural experiment relevant to both modern and prehistoric oceanic surface dispersal dynamics. Observed raft dispersal can be accurately reproduced by simulating drift and dispersal patterns using currents from an eddy-resolving ocean model hindcast. For future eruptions that produce potentially hazardous pumice rafts, our technique allows real-time forecasts of dispersal routes, in addition to inference of ash/pumice deposit distribution in the deep ocean.

Concepts: Teide, Pumice, Ignimbrite, Yellowstone Caldera, Caldera, Lava, Volcanology, Volcano


The Campi Flegrei volcanic field (Italy) poses very high risk to the highly urbanized Neapolitan area. Eruptive history was dominated by explosive activity producing pyroclastic currents (hereon PCs; acronym for Pyroclastic Currents) ranging in scale from localized base surges to regional flows. Here we apply probabilistic numerical simulation approaches to produce PC hazard maps, based on a comprehensive spectrum of flow properties and vent locations. These maps are incorporated in a Geographic Information System (GIS) and provide all probable Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) scenarios from different source vents in the caldera, relevant for risk management planning. For each VEI scenario, we report the conditional probability for PCs (i.e., the probability for a given area to be affected by the passage of PCs in case of a PC-forming explosive event) and related dynamic pressure. Model results indicate that PCs from VEI<4 events would be confined within the Campi Flegrei caldera, PC propagation being impeded by the northern and eastern caldera walls. Conversely, PCs from VEI 4-5 events could invade a wide area beyond the northern caldera rim, as well as part of the Naples metropolitan area to the east. A major controlling factor of PC dispersal is represented by the location of the vent area. PCs from the potentially largest eruption scenarios (analogous to the ~15 ka, VEI 6 Neapolitan Yellow Tuff or even the ~39 ka, VEI 7 Campanian Ignimbrite extreme event) would affect a large part of the Campanian Plain to the north and the city of Naples to the east. Thus, in case of renewal of eruptive activity at Campi Flegrei, up to 3 million people will be potentially exposed to volcanic hazard, pointing out the urgency of an emergency plan. Considering the present level of uncertainty in forecasting the future eruption type, size and location (essentially based on statistical analysis of previous activity), we suggest that appropriate planning measures should face at least the VEI 5 reference scenario (at least 2 occurrences documented in the last 10 ka).

Concepts: Probability, Mount Vesuvius, Naples, Volcano, Risk, Ignimbrite, Volcanic Explosivity Index, Campi Flegrei


Natural materials such as ignimbrites are preferred commonly not only in historical places but also in houses or in different kind of buildings all over the world especially around Ahlat in Bitlis-Turkey. Durability, lightness and good-insulation are the significative properties of these stones. Also, pumice is an another preferred material because of its advantages in construction industry. In this paper, four kinds of ignimbrite (light-yellow, yellow, black and white) and pumice from Ahlat region have been investigated by EPR method to determine magnetic properties of them. The results obtained by EPR, EDS and XRD methods are evaluated together. SEM technique is also used to understand the surface morphology of the samples.

Concepts: Lava, Volcanology, Construction, Pumice, Ignimbrite, Light, Building, Volcano


Volcanic tsunamis are generated by a variety of mechanisms, including volcano-tectonic earthquakes, slope instabilities, pyroclastic flows, underwater explosions, shock waves and caldera collapse. In this review, we focus on the lessons that can be learnt from past events and address the influence of parameters such as volume flux of mass flows, explosion energy or duration of caldera collapse on tsunami generation. The diversity of waves in terms of amplitude, period, form, dispersion, etc. poses difficulties for integration and harmonization of sources to be used for numerical models and probabilistic tsunami hazard maps. In many cases, monitoring and warning of volcanic tsunamis remain challenging (further technical and scientific developments being necessary) and must be coupled with policies of population preparedness.

Concepts: Caldera, Santorini, Volcanology, Ignimbrite, Earthquake, Tsunami, Volcano, Explosion


Mercury (Hg) is a toxic element that is emitted to the atmosphere by both human activities and natural processes. Volcanic emissions are considered a natural source of mercury in the environment. In some cases, tree ring records taken close to volcanoes and their relation to volcanic activity over time are contradictory. In 1949, the Hoyo Negro volcano (La Palma-Canary Islands) produced significant pyroclastic flows that damaged the nearby stand of Pinus canariensis. Recently, 60 years after the eruption, we assessed mercury concentrations in the stem of a pine which survived volcano formation, located at a distance of 50 m from the crater. We show that Hg content in a wound caused by pyroclastic impacts (22.3 μg kg(-1)) is an order of magnitude higher than the Hg concentrations measured in the xylem before and after the eruption (2.3 μg kg(-1)). Thus, mercury emissions originating from the eruption remained only as a mark-in pyroclastic wounds-and can be considered a sporadic and very high mercury input that did not affect the overall Hg input in the xylem. In addition, mercury contents recorded in the phloem (9.5 μg kg(-1)) and bark (6.0 μg kg(-1)) suggest that mercury shifts towards non-living tissues of the pine, an aspect that can be related to detoxification in volcanism-adapted species.

Concepts: Volcanoes, Earth, Venus, Volcanology, Magma, Ignimbrite, Pyroclastic flow, Volcano