Marine Geophysical Research

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 479–492 | Cite as

Multi-stage formation of La Fossa Caldera (Vulcano Island, Italy) from an integrated subaerial and submarine analysis

  • D. CasalboreEmail author
  • C. Romagnoli
  • A. Bosman
  • G. De Astis
  • F. Lucchi
  • C. A. Tranne
  • F. L. Chiocci
Original Research Paper


The analysis of multibeam bathymetry, seismic profiles, ROV dive and seafloor sampling, integrated with stratigraphic and geological data derived from subaerial field studies, provides information on the multi-stage formation and evolution of La Fossa Caldera at the active volcanic system of Vulcano (Aeolian Islands). The caldera is mostly subaerial and delimited by well-defined rims associated to three different collapse events occurred at about 80, 48–24, and 13–8 ka, respectively. The NE part of the caldera presently lies below the sea-level and is delimited by two partially degraded rim segments, encompassing a depressed and eroded area of approximately 2 km2. We present here further morphological and petrochemical evidence linking the subaerial caldera rims to its submarine counterparts. Particularly, one of the submarine rims can be directly correlated with the subaerial eastern caldera border related to the intermediate (48–24 ka) collapse event. The other submarine rim cannot be directly linked to any subaerial caldera rim, because of the emplacement of the Vulcanello lava platform during the last 2 millennia that interrupts the caldera border. However, morphological interpretation and the trachyte composition of dredged lavas allow us to associate this submarine rim with the younger (13–8 ka) caldera collapse event that truncated the trachyte-rhyolite Monte Lentia dome complex in the NW sector of Vulcano. The diachronicity of the different collapse events forming the La Fossa Caldera can also explain the morpho-structural mismatch of some hundreds of meters between the two submarine caldera rims. A small part of this offset could be also accounted by tectonic displacement along NE–SW trending lineaments breaching and dismantling the submarine portion of the caldera. A network of active erosive gullies, whose headwall arrive up to the coast, is in fact responsible of the marked marine retrogressive erosion affecting the NE part of the caldera, where remnants of intra-caldera volcanic activity are still evident. Submarine morphological features associated to the entrance of subaerial lava flow units into the sea are presented, particularly related to the construction of the La Fossa Cone and Vulcanello. More generally, this study demonstrates the utility of integrated marine and subaerial studies to unravel the volcano-tectonic evolution of active insular volcanoes.


Vulcano La Fossa Caldera Caldera rim Petrochemical analysis Multibeam bathymetry Lava flow units 



A special thank is due to The Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare-Geoportale Nazionale with license Creative Commons 3.0 Italy (CC BY-SA-3.0IT) for providing the terrestrial the high-resolution terrestrial Digital Elevation Model from Laser Imaging Detection and Ranging technology. We would like to thank all colleagues and students that participated in the cruises and in the data collection and preliminary analysis. The captains and the crews of the R/V Urania and Thetis are also gratefully acknowledged, as well as the Coastal Consulting & Exploration performing the shallow-water survey. Paolo Tommasi is gratefully acknowledged for useful discussion on slope stability of La Fossa Cone. We also thank Rui Quartau, Ingo Klaucke and an anonymous reviewer for their suggestion that largely improved the quality of the manuscript. The first author also thanks the research funding provided by the “Progetto di Ateneo Medi 2016” of the University Sapienza of Rome.


This research was performed in the framework of the GNV-DPC funded projects: “The submarine portions of Italian volcanoes: their survey and assessment of the potential volcanic hazard” and “Study of the submerged structure of Vulcano and implications for risk assessment.” All oceanographic cruises in deep water (> 110 m) were funded by National Research Council where sampling and geophysical surveys have been conducted.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. Casalbore
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Romagnoli
    • 2
  • A. Bosman
    • 3
  • G. De Astis
    • 4
  • F. Lucchi
    • 2
  • C. A. Tranne
    • 2
  • F. L. Chiocci
    • 1
  1. 1.Dip. Scienze della TerraUniversity Sapienza of RomeRomeItaly
  2. 2.Dip. Scienze Biologiche, Geologiche e AmbientaliUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly
  3. 3.IGAG-CNR, Istituto di Geologia Ambientale e GeoingegneriaMonterotondo Stazione, RomeItaly
  4. 4.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaRomeItaly

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