Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 53, Issue 5, pp 343–356 | Cite as

Stratigraphy of the Toba Tuffs and the evolution of the Toba Caldera Complex, Sumatra, Indonesia

  • Craig A Chesner
  • William I Rose


During the past 1.2 m.y., a magma chamber of batholithic proportions has developed under the 100 by 30 km Toba Caldera Complex. Four separate eruptions have occurred from vents within the present collapse structure, which formed from eruption of the 2800 km3 Youngest Toba Tuff (YTT) at 74 ka. Eruption of the three older Toba Tuffs alternated from calderas situated in northern and southern portions of the present caldera. The northern caldera apparently developed upon a large andesitic stratovolcano. The calderas associated with the three older tuffs are obscured by caldera collapse and resurgence resulting from eruption of the YTT. Samosir Island and the Uluan Block are two sides of a single resurgent dome that has resurged since eruption of the YTT. Samosir Island is composed of thick YTT caldera fill, whereas the Uluan Block consists mainly of the Oldest Toba Tuff (OTT). In the past 74000 years lava domes have been extruded on Samosir Island and along the caldera's western ring fracture. This part of the ring fracture is the site of the only current activity at Toba: updoming and fumarolic activity. The Toba eruptions document the growth of the laterally continuous magma body which eventually erupted the YTT. Repose periods between the four Toba Tuffs range between 0.34 and 0.43 m.y. and give insights into pluton emplacement and magmatic evolution at Toba.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Aldiss DT, Ghazali SA (1984) The regional geology and evolution of the Toba volcano-teconic depression, Indonesia. Geol Soc London J 141:487–500Google Scholar
  2. Aldiss DT, Whandoyo R, Ghazali SA, Kusyono (1982) Geology of the Sidikalang Quadrangle, northern Sumatra (1:250000 sheets NA 47-5, 47-6). Geological Research and Development Centre, Bandung, IndonesiaGoogle Scholar
  3. Ben Avraham Z, Emery KO (1973) Structural framework of Sunda Shelf. Bull Am Assoc Petrol Geol 57:2323–2366Google Scholar
  4. Cameron NR, Clarke MCG, Aldiss DT, Aspden JA, Djunuddin A (1981) The geological evolution of northern Sumatra: Proc. 9th Annual Convention Indonesian Petroleum Association 1980, JakartaGoogle Scholar
  5. Caress ME (1985) Volcanology of the youngest Toba Tuff, Sumatra. MS Thesis, Monoa, University of Hawaii, 150 pGoogle Scholar
  6. Chesner CA, Rose WI, Deino A, Drake R (1991) Eruptive history of Earth's largest Quaternary caldera (Toba, Indonesia) clarified Geology 19:200–203Google Scholar
  7. Chesner CA (1988) The Toba Tuffs and Caldera Complex, Sumatra, Indonesia: Insights into magma bodies and eruptions. PhD Thesis, Houghton, Michigan Technological University, 428 pGoogle Scholar
  8. Christiansen RL (1979) Cooling units and composite sheets in relation to caldera structure. Spec Pap Geol Soc Am 180:29–42Google Scholar
  9. Christiansen RL, Blank HR (1972) Volcanic stratigraphy of the Quaternary rhyolite plateau in Yellowstone National Park. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 729-B:18 pGoogle Scholar
  10. Clough BJ, Wright JV, Walker GPL (1981) An unusual bed of giant pumice in Mexico. Nature 289:49–50Google Scholar
  11. Diehl JF, Onstott TC, Chesner CA, Knight MD (1987) No short reversals of Brunhes age recorded in the Toba tuffs, north Sumatra, Indonesia. Geophys Res Lett 14:753–756Google Scholar
  12. Doell RR, Dalrymple GB, Smith RL, Bailey RA (1968) Paleomagnetism, potassium-argon ages, and geology of rhyolite and associated rocks of the Valles Caldera, New Mexico. Mem Geol Soc Am 116:211–248Google Scholar
  13. Fitch TJ (1972) Plate convergence, transcurrent faults and internal deformation adjacent to Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific. J Geol Soc London 77:4432–4442Google Scholar
  14. Gardner JN, Hulen JB, Goff F, Criswell CW, Nielson DL (1990) Structural events and influences in the development of the Valles-Toledo Caldera Complex. EOS Trans Am Geophys Union 17:1677Google Scholar
  15. Grunder AL (1986) The Calabozos Caldera Complex: Geology, petrology, and geochemistry of a major silicic volcanic center and hydrothermal system in the southern Andes. Ph D Thesis, Stanford University, 171 pGoogle Scholar
  16. Izett GA, Obradovich JD, Naeser CW, Cebula GT (1981) Potassium-argon and fission-track ages of Cerro Toledo rhyolite tephra in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 1199D:37–43Google Scholar
  17. Kieckhefer RM (1980) Geophysical studies of the oblique subduction zone in Sumatra. Ph D Thesis, University of California, 119 pGoogle Scholar
  18. Knight MD, Walker GPL, Ellwood BB, Diehl JF (1986) Stratigraphy, paleomagnetism, and magnetic fabric of the Toba tuffs: Constraits on the sources and eruptive styles. J Geophys Res 91:10355–10382Google Scholar
  19. Leake BE, Hendry GL, Kemp A, Plant AG, Harvey PK, Wilson JR, Coats JS, Aucott JW, Lunel T, Howarth RJ (1969) The chemical analysis of rock powders by automatic X-ray fluorescence. Chem Geol 5:7–86Google Scholar
  20. Lipman PW (1984) The roots of ash flow calderas in western North America: windows into the tops of granitic batholiths. J Geophys Res 89:8801–8841Google Scholar
  21. Marsh BD (1984) On the mechanics of caldera resurgence: J Geophys Res 89:8245–8251Google Scholar
  22. Ninkovich D (1979) Distribution, age and chemical composition of tephra layers in deep-sea sediments of western Indonesia. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 5:67–86Google Scholar
  23. Ninkovich D, Shackleton NJ, Abdel-Monem AA, Obradovich JD, Izett G (1978a) K-Ar age of the late Pleistocene eruption of Toba, north Sumatra. Nature 276:574–577Google Scholar
  24. Ninkovich D, Sparks RSJ, Ledbetter MT (1978b) The exceptional magnitude and intensity of the Toba eruption, Sumatra: An example of the use of deep-sea tephra layers as a geological tool. Bull Volcanol 41:286–298Google Scholar
  25. Nishimura S (1980) Re-examination of the fission-track ages of volcanic ashes and ignimbrites in Sumatra. In: Nishimura S (ed) Physical geology of Indonesian Island Arcs. Kyoto University, Kyoto, pp 148–153Google Scholar
  26. Nishimura S, Abe E, Nishida J, Yokoyama T, Dharma A, Hehanussa P, Hehuwat F (1984) A gravity and volcanostratigraphic interpretation of the Lake Toba region, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Tectonophysics 109:253–272Google Scholar
  27. Nishimura S, Abe E, Yokoyama T, Wirasantosa S, Dharma A, (1977) Danau Toba-The outline of Lake Toba, North Sumatra, Indonesia. Paleolimnol. Lake Biwa Japan Pleistocene 5:313–332Google Scholar
  28. Page BGN, Bennett JD, Cameron NR, Bridge DMcC, Jeffery DH, Keats W, Thaib J (1979) A review of the main structural and magmatic features of Northern Sumatra. J Geol Soc London 136:569–579Google Scholar
  29. Rose WI, Chesner CA (1987) Dispersal of ash in the great Toba eruption, 75 ka. Geology 15:913–917Google Scholar
  30. Rose WI, Bornhorst TJ, Sivonen SJ (1986) Rapid, high-quality major and trace element analysis of powdered rock by X-ray fluorescence spectrometry. X-Ray Spectrom 15:55–60Google Scholar
  31. Sclater JG, Fischer RL (1974) Evolution of the east central Indian Ocean with emphasis on the tectonic setting of the Ninety-East Ridge. Geol Soc Am Bull 85:683–702Google Scholar
  32. Smith RL, Bailey RA (1968) Resurgent cauldrons. In: Coats RR, Hay RL, Anderson CA (eds) Studies in volcanology. Geol Soc Am Mem 116:613–662Google Scholar
  33. Smith RL (1979) Ash flow magmatism: Spec Pap Geol Soc Am 180:5–27Google Scholar
  34. Smith RL, Shaw HR (1975) Igneous-related geothermal systems. In: White DE, Williams DL (eds) Assessment of geothermal resources of the United States 1975. US Geol Surv Circular 726:58–83Google Scholar
  35. Spera FJ, Crisp JA (1981) Eruption volume, periodicity and caldera area: Relationships and inferences on development of compositional zonation in silicic magma chambers. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 11:169–187Google Scholar
  36. Steven TA, Lipman PW (1976) Calderas of the San Juan volcanic field, southwestern Colorado. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 958:35 pGoogle Scholar
  37. Tjia HD, Kusnaeny K (1976) An Early Quaternary age of an ignimbrite layer, Lake Toba, Sumatra. Sains Malaysia 5:67–70Google Scholar
  38. Van Bemmelen RW (1929) The origin of Lake Toba (North Sumatra). 4th Pacific Sci Cong, Batavia, Proc 2a:115–124Google Scholar
  39. Van Bemmelen RW (1939) The volcano-tectonic origin of Lake Toba (North Sumatra). De Ing in ned Ind 6–9:126–140Google Scholar
  40. Van Bemmelen RW (1949) The geology of Indonesia. In: M Nijhoff (ed) General geology of Indonesia and adjacent archipelagos. The Hague, Government Printing Office 1A:732 pGoogle Scholar
  41. Van Bemmelen RW (1970) The geology of Indonesia (2nd edn). the Hague, Government Printing Office, 732 pGoogle Scholar
  42. Verstappen HT (1961) Some volcano-tectonic depressions of Sumatra, their origin and mode of development. Kon Ned Acad Wetensche Proc ser B 64:428–443Google Scholar
  43. Verstappen HT (1973) A geomorphological reconnaissance of Sumatra and adjacent islands (Indonesia). Wollters-Nordhoff, GroningenGoogle Scholar
  44. Westerveld J (1947) On the origin of the volcanic rocks around Lake Toba, North Sumatra. Verh Kon Ned Akad Wetensch, Afd Natuurk, sec 2 43:1–51Google Scholar
  45. Westerveld J (1952) Quaternary volcanism on Sumatra. Geol Soc Am Bull 63:561–594Google Scholar
  46. Wilson CJN, Walker GPL (1985) The Taupo eruption, New Zealand. Part I: General aspects: Phil Trans R Soc London A314:199–228Google Scholar
  47. Wilson CJN, Rogan AM, Smith IEM, Northey DJ, Nairn IA, Houghton BF (1984) Caldera Volcanoes of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. J Geophys Res 89:8463–8484Google Scholar
  48. Yokoyama T, Nishimura S, Abe E, Otofuji Y, Ikeda T, Suparka S, Dharma A (1980) Volcano-, magneto and chrono-stratigraphy and the geologic structure of Danau Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. In: Nishimura S (ed) Physical geology of Indonesian island arcs. Kyoto University, Kyoto, pp 122–143Google Scholar
  49. Yokoyama T, Hehanussa PE (1981) The age of “Old Toba Tuff” and some problems on the geohistory of Lake Toba, Sumatra, Indonesia. Paleolimnology of Lake Biwa. Jpn Pleistocene 9:177–186Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Craig A Chesner
    • 1
  • William I Rose
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geology and GeographyEastern Illinois UniversityCharlestonUSA
  2. 2.Department of Geological Engineering, Geology, and GeophysicsMichigan Technological UniversityHoughtonUSA

Personalised recommendations