Changes in eruptive style during the A.D. 1538 Monte Nuovo eruption (Phlegrean Fields, Italy): the role of syn-eruptive crystallization

C D'Oriano, E Poggianti, A Bertagnini, R Cioni, Patrizia Landi, Margherita Polacci, Mauro Rosi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The Monte Nuovo eruption is the most recent event that occurred at Phlegrean Fields (Italy) and lasted from 29 September to 6 October 1538. It was characterized by 2 days of quasi-sustained phreatomagmatic activity generating pumice-bearing pyroclastic density currents and forming a 130-m-high tuff cone (Lower Member deposits). The activity resumed after a pause of 2 days with two discrete Vulcanian explosions that emplaced radially distributed, scoria-bearing pyroclastic flows (Upper Member deposits). The juvenile products of Lower and Upper Members are, respectively, phenocryst-poor, light-coloured pumice and dark scoria fragments with K-phonolitic bulk compositions, identical in terms of both major and trace elements. Groundmass is formed by variable proportions of K-feldspar and glass, along with minor sodalite and Fe-Ti oxide present in the most crystallized samples. Investigations of groundmass compositions and textures were performed to assess the mechanisms of magma ascent, degassing and fragmentation along the conduit and implications for the eruptive dynamics. In pumice of the Lower Member groundmass crystal content increases from 13 to 28 vol% from the base to the top of the sequence. Products of the Upper Member consist of clasts with a groundmass crystal content between 30 and 40 vol% and of totally crystallized fragments. Crystal size distributions of groundmass feldspars shift from a single population at the base of the Lower Member to a double population in the remaining part of the sequence. The average size of both populations regularly increases from the Lower to the Upper Member. Crystal number density increases by two orders of magnitude from the Lower to the Upper Member, suggesting that nucleation dominated during the second phase of the eruption. The overall morphological, compositional and textural data suggest that the juvenile components of the Monte Nuovo eruption are likely to record variations of the magma properties within the conduit. The different textures of pumice clasts from the Lower Member possibly reflect horizontal gradients of the physical properties (P, T) of the ascending magma column, while scoriae from the second phase are thought to result from the disruption of a slowly rising plug crystallizing in response to degassing. In particular, crystal size distribution data point to syn-eruptive degassing-induced crystallization as responsible for the transition in eruptive style from the first to the second phase of the eruption. This mechanism not only has been proved to profoundly affect the dynamics of dome-forming calc-alkaline eruptions, but may also have a strong influence in driving the eruption dynamics of alkaline magmas of intermediate to evolved compositions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)601-621
    Number of pages20
    JournalBulletin of Volcanology
    Issue number7
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2005


    • Phlegrean Fields Vulcanian explosion Degassing Groundmass crystallization Eruption dynamics


    Dive into the research topics of 'Changes in eruptive style during the A.D. 1538 Monte Nuovo eruption (Phlegrean Fields, Italy): the role of syn-eruptive crystallization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this