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A proximal record of caldera-forming eruptions: the stratigraphy, eruptive history, and collapse of the Palaeogene Arran caldera, western Scotland

Gooday, Robert, Brown, David J., Goodenough, Kathryn M. and Kerr, Andrew ORCID: 2018. A proximal record of caldera-forming eruptions: the stratigraphy, eruptive history, and collapse of the Palaeogene Arran caldera, western Scotland. Bulletin of Volcanology 80 , 70. 10.1007/s00445-018-1243-z

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Caldera-forming volcanic eruptions are among the most dangerous, and can generate extensive pyroclastic deposits and deliver ash into global atmospheric circulation systems. As calderas collapse, the eruptions can deposit thick proximal ignimbrite sequences and thinner ignimbrites more distally. However, the proximal record of caldera collapse is often obscured by later intrusions, volcanism, faults, alteration, water and sediments, which significantly limits our understanding of these eruptions. A Palaeogene caldera system in central Arran, western Scotland, preserves a rare proximal caldera-fill succession, the Arran Volcanic Formation. This caldera largely comprises highly heterogeneous ignimbrites and minor intra-caldera sedimentary rocks. The current level of erosion, and the general absence of faults, intrusions and sediments, allows a complex stratigraphy and collapse history to be determined, which can be linked to changing eruptive styles at a constantly evolving volcano. The first recorded phase was eruption of a homogeneous rhyolitic lava-like tuff, deposited from high temperature, high mass-flux pyroclastic density currents generated from low fountaining columns that retained heat. A succeeding phase of highly explosive Plinian eruptions, marked by a thick blanket of massive lapilli tuffs, was then followed by piston-like caldera collapse and erosion of steep caldera walls. Volcanism then became generally less explosive, with predominantly lava-like and eutaxitic tuffs and cognate spatter-rich agglomerates interbedded with non-homogenous lapilli tuffs. High topographic relief between distinct units indicate long periods of volcanic quiescence, during which erosive processes dominated. These periods are, in several places, marked by sedimentary rocks and evidence for surface water, which includes a localised basaltic-andesitic phreatomagmatic tuff. The caldera-forming eruptions recorded by the Arran Volcanic Formation provide an important insight into caldera collapse processes and proximal ignimbrite successions. The lack of thick autobreccias and lithic-rich lapilli- and block-layers indicates that subsidence was relatively gradual and incremental in this caldera, and not accompanied by catastrophic wall collapse during eruption. The relatively horizontal nature of the caldera-fill units and paucity of intra-caldera faulting indicate that piston subsidence was the dominant method of collapse, with a relatively coherent caldera floor bounded by a steeply dipping ring fault. Possible resurgence may have caused later doming of the floor and radial distribution of subsequent ignimbrites and sedimentary rocks. Our work emphasises the continued need for field studies of caldera volcanoes.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Published Online
Status: Published
Schools: Earth and Environmental Sciences
Publisher: Springer Verlag
ISSN: 0258-8900
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 6 August 2018
Date of Acceptance: 2 August 2018
Last Modified: 05 May 2023 00:34

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