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Storage and eruption of near-liquidus rhyolite magma at Cordón Caulle, Chile


The last three eruptions at the Cordón Caulle volcanic complex, Chile, have been strikingly similar in that they have started with relatively short pre-eruptive warning and produced chemically homogeneous rhyolite to rhyodacite magma with glassy to aphyric texture. These characteristics collectively call for an understanding of the storage conditions leading to the rise and extraction of crystal-poor silicic magma from volcanoes. We have analyzed and experimentally reproduced the mineral assemblage and glass chemistry in rhyolite magma produced in the most recent eruption of Cordón Caulle, and we use these to infer magma storage and ascent conditions. Fe–Ti oxide mineral geothermometry suggests that the rhyolite was stored at ∼870–920 °C. At these temperatures, the phenocryst assemblage (plag∼An37 > cpx + opx > mag + ilm) can be reproduced under H2O-saturated conditions of between 100 and 50 MPa, corresponding to crustal depths between about 2.5 and 5.0 km. The shallow and relatively hot magma storage conditions have implications for the rapid onset, degassing efficiency, and progression from explosive to mixed pyroclastic-effusive eruption style at Cordón Caulle.

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The authors thank L.E. Lara of the SERNAGEOMIN for providing logistical support and the GeoEye foundation for the use of a high-resolution satellite photo of the Cordón Caulle vent region. C.I. Schipper acknowledges support from ERC grant 202844 under the European FP7. S. Buhre and N. Groschopf provided helpful analytical support. The authors thank P. Wallace, H. Wright, and J. Larsen for providing thorough and useful comments.

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Correspondence to Jonathan M. Castro.

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Castro, J.M., Schipper, C.I., Mueller, S.P. et al. Storage and eruption of near-liquidus rhyolite magma at Cordón Caulle, Chile. Bull Volcanol 75, 702 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-013-0702-9

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  • Cordón Caulle
  • Explosive-effusive volcanism
  • Magma storage
  • Plinian explosion
  • Rhyolite