Thermal state and implications for eruptive styles of the intra-Plinian and climactic ignimbrites of the 4.6 ka Fogo A eruption sequence, Sao Miguel, Azores

A Pensa, G Giordano, R A F Cas, M Porreca

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The 4.6 ka Fogo A Plinian eruption was a caldera-forming volcanic event on São Miguel Island, Azores. The deposit succession is very complex, composed of a thick trachytic Plinian fallout deposit interstratified with two intra-Plinian ignimbrites (named “pink ignimbrite” and “black ignimbrite” sequentially). The succession ends with a main ignimbrite (named “dark brown ignimbrite”), which represents the deposit of complete collapse of the eruption column and the end of the eruption. In this work, emplacement temperatures of the three ignimbrites are estimated by study of partial thermal remanent magnetization (pTRM) of lithic clasts. A total of 140 oriented lithic clasts were collected from 15 localities distributed along the northern and southern flanks of Fogo volcano. The paleomagnetic data reveal different emplacement temperatures and thermal histories that were experienced by each ignimbrite. The results indicate the presence of five different paleomagnetic behaviours that suggest emplacement temperatures of 350–400 °C for the first (pink) intra-Plinian ignimbrite, temperatures higher than 580–600 °C for the second (black) intra-Plinian ignimbrite and 250–370 °C for the last (dark brown) climactic ignimbrite. The thermal history experienced by each pyroclastic flow and its ignimbrite deposit was also assessed by the use of the magnetite-ilmenite geothermometer to determine the pre-eruptive magma temperature (estimated to be around 900 °C). We interpret the different emplacement temperatures of the Fogo A ignimbrites as being due to a combination of factors. These include (i) collapse from different heights of the eruption column and the resultant different amounts of air entrainment into the gas-particle mixture, (ii) variable content of lithic clasts and (iii) different types of juvenile clasts in the ignimbrites.
Original languageEnglish
Article number99
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalBulletin of Volcanology
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Emplacement temperature
  • Fogo A eruption
  • Heat dissipation
  • Ignimbrite
  • Thermal remanent magnetization

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