, Volume 70, Issue 5, pp 633-650

Volcanic evolution of Volcán Aucanquilcha: a long-lived dacite volcano in the Central Andes of northern Chile

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Abstract

Volcán Aucanquilcha, northern Chile, has produced ∼37 km3 of dacite (63–66 wt% silica), mainly as lavas with ubiquitous magmatic inclusions (59–62 wt% silica) over the last ∼1 million years. A pyroclastic flow deposit related to dome collapse occurs on the western side of the edifice and a debris avalanche deposit occurs on the eastern side. The >6,000-m high edifice defines a 9-km E–W ridge and lies at the center of a cluster of more than 15 volcanoes, the Aucanquilcha Volcanic Cluster, that has been active for at least the past 11 million years. The E–W alignment of vents is nearly orthogonal to the arc axis. A majority of Volcán Aucanquilcha was constructed during the first 200,000 years of eruption, whereas the last 800,000 years have added little additional volume. The peak eruptive rate during the edifice-building phases was ∼0.16 km3/ka and the later eruptive rate was ∼0.02 km3/ka. Comparable dacite volcanoes elsewhere show a similar pattern of high volcanic productivity during the early stages and punctuated rather than continuous activity. Volcán Aucanquilcha lavas are dominated by phenocrysts of plagioclase, accompanied by two populations of amphibole, biotite, clinopyroxene, Fe–Ti oxides and (or) orthopyroxene. Accessory phases include zircon, apatite and rare quartz and sanidine. One amphibole population is pargasite and the other is hornblende. The homogeneity of dacite lava from Volcán Aucanquilcha contrasts with the heterogeneity (52–66 wt% silica) at nearby Volcán Ollagüe, which has been active over roughly the same period of time. We attribute this homogeneity at Aucanquilcha to the thermal development of the crust underneath the volcano resulting from protracted magmatism there, whereas Volcán Ollagüe lacks this magmatic legacy.

Editorial responsibility: J. McPhie