Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 67, Issue 8, pp 743–767 | Cite as

A complex, Subplinian-type eruption from low-viscosity, phonolitic to tephri-phonolitic magma: the AD 472 (Pollena) eruption of Somma-Vesuvius, Italy

  • Roberto SulpizioEmail author
  • Daniela Mele
  • Pierfrancesco Dellino
  • Luigi La Volpe
Research Article


The combined use of field investigation and laboratory analyses allowed the detailed stratigraphic reconstruction of the Pollena eruption (472 AD) of Somma-Vesuvius. Three main eruptive phases were recognized, related either to changes in the eruptive processes and/or to relative changes of melt composition. The eruption shows a pulsating behavior with deposition of pyroclastic fall beds and generation of dilute and dense pyroclastic density currents (PDC). The eruptive mechanisms and transportation dynamics were reconstructed for the whole eruption. Column heights were between 12 and 20 km, corresponding to mass discharge rates (MDR) of 7×106 kg/s and 3.4×107 kg/s. Eruptive dynamics were driven by magmatic fragmentation of a phono-tephritic to tephri-phonolitic magma during Phases I and II, whereas phreatomagmatic fragmentation dominated Phase III. Magma composition varies between phonolitic and tephritic-phonolitic, with melt viscosity likely not in excess of 103 Pa s. The volume of the pyroclastic fall deposits, calculated by using of proximal isopachs, is 0.44 km3. This increases to 1.38 km3 if ash volumes are extrapolated on a log thickness vs. square root area diagram using one distal isopach and column height.


Subplinian eruption Oscillating behavior Magmatic-phreatomagmatic fragmentation Pyroclastic density currents 



This work is part of the ongoing research on explosive activity of Italian volcanoes funded by Gruppo Nazionale per la Vulcanologia (GNV) of Italy. We are grateful to Raffaello Cioni for his editorial assistance and help. We thank Paul Cole and Judy Fierstein for their comments and suggestions that greatly improved the manuscript


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roberto Sulpizio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniela Mele
    • 1
  • Pierfrancesco Dellino
    • 1
  • Luigi La Volpe
    • 1
  1. 1.Dipartimento GeomineralogicoUniversità di BariBariItaly

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