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Permian caldera discovered in Italian Alps 22 September 2009

Posted by admin in calderas, current research, Italy.
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The remains of a caldera that erupted during the Permian (290-248 million years b.p.) have been identified in the Sesia Valley in the Italian Alps. Local uplift has exposed the magmatic plumbing to the depth of 25km, five times deeper than scientists have been able to study previously:

A fossil supervolcano has been discovered in the Italian Alps’ Sesia Valley by a team led by James E. Quick, a geology professor at Southern Methodist University. The discovery will advance scientific understanding of active supervolcanoes, like Yellowstone, which is the second-largest supervolcano in the world and which last erupted 630,000 years ago.

A rare uplift of the Earth’s crust in the Sesia Valley reveals for the first time the actual ‘plumbing’ of a supervolcano from the surface to the source of the magma deep within the Earth, according to a new research article reporting the discovery. The uplift reveals to an unprecedented depth of 25 kilometers the tracks and trails of the magma as it moved through the Earth’s crust.

The discovery was described by Prof Quick and his colleagues in Geology, July 2009 (click here for the abstract), and SMU have a press release, ‘Research Spotlight: the “Rosetta Stone” of supervolcanoes’.

(What would science reporters do without the term ‘supervolcano’? And where there’s the term ‘supervolcano’, the name ‘Yellowstone’ is rarely far behind.)

Supervolcano ‘Rosetta Stone’ discovered in Italian Alps – redOrbit, 21 September 2009

The Volcanism Blog


1. bruce stout - 22 September 2009

A 13 km caldera is certainly big but I am not sure it has earned the epithet “supervolcano”. That said I wonder what they will find once they analyze the rocks. Presuming the find presents the situation after a caldera forming eruption it will be interesting to see how much silicic material is still there and how much basalt has intruded into the system (as they hint in the abstract).

I also wonder at the novelty of the find. Somehow it surprises me that there are not already other examples of deep magmatic systems exposed by uplift/erosion dotted around the globe.

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