Evolution of the mafic Villa Senni caldera-forming eruption at Colli Albani volcano, Italy, indicated by textural analysis of juvenile fragments

Anna Paula Vinkler, Katharine Cashman, Guido Giordano, Gianluca Groppelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The Villa Senni Formation (355 ka) represents the youngest mafic caldera-forming eruption of the Colli Albani Volcano (Central Italy), and one of the best exposed large mafic ignimbrite successions on Earth. The unusual Si-undersaturated and high-K composition of the magma, and corresponding low magma viscosity, raise important questions about the conditions of magma ascent, eruption, and fragmentation that led to such a large explosive eruption. We examined the juvenile clast textures - that is, the abundance, shape, size and number density of both vesicles and leucite microlites - to reconstruct the fragmentation conditions and to trace major changes in the ascent rate and vesiculation history of the magma associated with caldera collapse. The juvenile textures record two major changes in the eruption dynamics through the stratigraphy. First, the sudden depressurization of the magma chamber and the onset of the first ignimbrite-forming phase are marked by a dramatic increase in the magma ascent velocity inferred by a decrease in vesicle and leucite microlite sizes and increase in their number densities. Second, the progressive restoration of pressure within the magma reservoir as a consequence of caldera collapse is recorded by an inversion of vesicle and leucite microlite textures. which suggest a strong decrease in magma ascent rate. Complex vent conditions in this later phase of the caldera collapse are recorded by the diversity of textural features, variation in magma chemistry and the abrupt changes in the stratigraphic record (including the presence of co-ignimbrite breccias, spatter clasts and lithics). (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-54
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

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