La Pacana caldera and the Atana Ignimbrite — a major ash-flow and resurgent caldera complex in the Andes of northern Chile
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- Gardeweg, M. & Ramírez, C.F. Bull Volcanol (1987) 49: 547. doi:10.1007/BF01080449
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The recently discovered La Pacana caldera, 60 × 35 km, is the largest caldera yet described in South America. This resurgent caldera of Pliocene age developed in a continental platemargin environment in a major province of ignimbrite volcanism in the Central Andes of northern Chile at about 23° S latitude. Collapse of La Pacana caldera was initiated by the eruption of about 900 km3 of the rhyodacitic Atana Ignimbrite. The Atana Ignimbrite was erupted from a composite ring fracture system and formed at least four major ash-flow tuff units that are separated locally by thin air-fall and surge deposits; all four sheets were emplaced in rapid succession about 4.1 ± 0.4 Ma ago. Caldera collapse was followed closely by resurgent doming of the caldera floor, accompanied by early postcaldera eruptions of dacitic to rhyolitic lava domes along the ring fractures. The resurgent dome is an elongated, asymmetrical uplift, 48.5 × 12 km, which is broken by a complex system of normal faults locally forming a narrow discontinuous apical graben. Later, postcaldera eruptions produced large andesitic and dacitic stratocones along the caldera margins and dacitic domes on the resurgent dome beginning about 3.5 Ma ago and persisting into the Quaternary. Hydrothermally altered rocks occur in the eroded cores of precaldera and postcaldera stratovolcanoes and along fractures in the resurgent dome, but no ore deposits are known. A few warm springs located in salars within the caldera moat appear to be vestiges of the caldera geothermal system.