Research Article

Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 70, Issue 8, pp 961-976

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Magma chamber evolution prior to the Campanian Ignimbrite and Neapolitan Yellow Tuff eruptions (Campi Flegrei, Italy)

  • Sonja PabstAffiliated withAbteilung Geochemie, GZG, Georg-August-Universität GöttingenMineralogisches Institut, Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg Email author 
  • , Gerhard WörnerAffiliated withAbteilung Geochemie, GZG, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
  • , Lucia CivettaAffiliated withDept. of Scienze Fisiche, University of Napoli Federico II and Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia–Osservatorio Vesuviano
  • , Roberto TesoroAffiliated withDept. of Scienze Fisiche, University of Napoli Federico II and Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia–Osservatorio Vesuviano


The Campi Flegrei (Campanian Region, Italy) experienced two cataclysmic caldera-forming eruptions which produced the Campanian Ignimbrite (39 ka, CI) and the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (15 ka, NYT). We studied the minor eruptions before both these large events to understand magma chamber evolution leading towards such catastrophic eruptions. Major, trace element, and Sr and Nd isotope compositions of pre-Campanian Ignimbrite and pre-Neapolitan Yellow Tuff products define distinct geochemical groups, which are here interpreted as distinct magma batches. These batches do not show any transitional trend towards the CI and NYT eruptions. The CI and NYT systems are decoupled geochemically and isotopically. At least one of the pre-CI and one of the pre-NYT erupted magma batches qualifies as mixing endmembers for the large CI and NYT eruptions, and thus, must have been stored in reservoirs for some time to remain available for the CI and NYT eruptions. The least evolved, isotopically distinct magma compositions that are typical of the last phases of the NYT and CI eruptions did not occur before caldera-forming events. Based on the new data, we propose the following scenario: Multiple magma chambers with distinct compositions existed below the Campi Flegrei before the CI and NYT eruptions and remained generally separated for some time unless new magma was recharged. In each case, one of the residing magma reservoirs was recharged by a new large-volume magma input of intermediate composition from a deeper differentiating magma reservoir. This may have triggered the coalescence of the previously separated reservoirs into one large chamber which fed the cataclysmic caldera-forming eruption. Large magma chambers in the Campi Flegrei may therefore be ephemeral features, interrupted by periods of evolution in individual, separated magma reservoirs.


Campi Flegrei Phlegraean fields Campanian Ignimbrite Neapolitan Yellow Tuff Geochemistry Sr and Nd isotopes Magma batches Precursor activity