High level triggers for explosive mafic volcanism: Albano Maar, Italy

J. K. Cross*, E. L. Tomlinson, G. Giordano, V. C. Smith, A. A. De Benedetti, J. Roberge, C. J. Manning, S. Wulf, M. A. Menzies

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colli Albani is a quiescent caldera complex located within the Roman Magmatic Province (RMP), Italy. The recent Via dei Laghi phreatomagmatic eruptions led to the formation of nested maars. Albano Maar is the largest and has erupted seven times between ca 69-33ka. The highly explosive nature of the Albano Maar eruptions is at odds with the predominant relatively mafic (SiO2=48-52wt.%) foiditic (K2O=9wt.%) composition of the magma. The deposits have been previously interpreted as phreatomagmatic, however they contain large amounts (up to 30%vol) of deep seated xenoliths, skarns and all pre-volcanic subsurface units. All of the xenoliths have been excavated from depths of up to 6km, rather than being limited to the depth at which magma and water interaction is likely to have occurred, suggesting an alternative trigger for eruption. High precision geochemical glass and mineral data of fresh juvenile (magmatic) clasts from the small volume explosive deposits indicate that the magmas have evolved along one of two evolutionary paths towards foidite or phonolite. The foiditic melts record ca. 50% mixing between the most primitive magma and Ca-rich melt, late stage prior to eruption. A major result of our study is finding that the generation of Ca-rich melts via assimilation of limestone, may provide storage for significant amounts of CO2 that can be released during a mixing event with silicate magma. Differences in melt evolution are inferred as having been controlled by variations in storage conditions: residence time and magma volume.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-153
Number of pages17
Early online date12 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2014


  • Assimilation
  • Foidite
  • Fractional crystallisation and magma evolution
  • Glass chemistry
  • Mixing

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