Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 55, Issue 5, pp 311–326 | Cite as

A facies interpretation of the eruption and emplacement mechanisms of the upper part of the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff, Campi Flegrei, southern Italy

  • P. D. Cole
  • C. Scarpati


This study focuses on the upper part, Member B, of the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff (NYT). Detailed measurements of stratigraphic sections within the unlithified ‘pozzolana’ facies show that Member B is composed of at least six distinct depositional units which each record a complex fluctuation between different styles of deposition from pyroclastic density flows. Six lithofacies have been identified: (1) massive valleyponded facies, the product of non-turbulent flows; (2) inverse-graded facies formed by flows that were turbulent for the majority of transport but were deposited through a non-tubulent basal regime; (3) regressive sand-wave facies, the product of high-concentration, turbulent flows; (4) stratified facies, the product of deposition from turbulent, low-particle-concentration, flows; (5) particle aggregate and (6) vesicular ash lithofacies, both of which are considered to have formed by deposition from turbulent, low-concentration flows. Although the whole eruption may have been phreatomagmatic, facies 1–4 are interpreted to be the product of dry eruptive activity, whereas facies 5 and 6 are considered to be of wet phreatomagmatic eruptive phases. Small-scale horizontal variations between facies include inverse-graded lithofacies that pass laterally into regressive sand-wave structures and stratified deposits. This indicates rapid transition from non-turbulent to turbulent deposition within the same flow. Thin vesicular ash and particle aggregate layers pass laterally into massive valley-ponded vesicular lithofacies, suggesting contemporaneous wet pyroclastic surges and cohesive mud flows. Three common vertical facies relations were recognised. (1) Massive valley-ponded and inverse-graded facies are overlain by stratified facies, suggesting decreasing particle concentration with time during passage of a flow. (2) Repeated vertical gradation from massive up into stratified facies and back into massive beds, is indicative of flow fluctuating between non-turbulent and turbulent depositional conditions. (3) Vertical alternation between particle aggregates and vesicular facies is interpreted as the product of many flow pulses, each of which involved deposition of a single particle aggregate and vesicular ash layer. It is possible that the different facies record stages in a continuum of flow processes. The deposits formed are dependent on the presence, thickness and behaviour of a high-concentration, non-turbulent boundary layer at the base of the flow. The end members of this process are (a) flows that transported and deposited material from a non-turbulent flow regime and (b) flows that transported and deposited material from a turbulent flow regime.

Key words

Neapolitan Yellow Tuff lithofacies phreatomagmatic inverse-grading traction carpets hydraulic jumps depositional units 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • P. D. Cole
    • 1
  • C. Scarpati
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Geofisica e VulcanologiaUniversità di NapoliNaplesItaly

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