Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 71, Issue 8, pp 933–952 | Cite as

Palaeoenvironment reconstruction, volcanic evolution and geochronology of the Cerro Blanco subcomplex, Nevados de Chillán volcanic complex, central Chile

  • Katy MeeEmail author
  • Jennie S. Gilbert
  • David W. McGarvie
  • José A. Naranjo
  • Malcolm S. Pringle
Research Article


Nevados de Chillán Volcanic Complex, central Chile, has been active for at least 640 ka—a period spanning a number of glacial and interglacial periods. Geologic mapping, radiometric dating and geochemical analysis have identified six new volcanic units and produced four new 40Ar/39Ar ages for Cerro Blanco, the northern subcomplex of Nevados de Chillán volcano. Compositions range from dacite to basaltic-andesite and a new geologic map is presented. Examination of lava fracture structures on both newly mapped lavas and those mapped during previous studies has enabled interpretations of former eruptive environments. Palaeoenvironment reconstructions, combined with 40Ar/39Ar ages and comparison with the marine oxygen isotope record, show that at least three phases of volcanic activity have occurred during the evolution of Cerro Blanco: (1) a constructive, pre-caldera collapse period; (2) a period of caldera formation and collapse; and (3) a constructive period of dome growth forming the modern day volcanic centre. This style of volcanic evolution, whereby large-scale caldera collapse is followed by growth of a new stratocone is common at Andean volcanoes.


Volcano–ice interaction Nevados de Chillán Cerro Blanco Palaeoenvironment reconstruction Snow-contact Caldera-collapse 40Ar/39Ar dating 



The authors would like to thank Hugh Tuffen and Mike James for their valuable contributions in the field, along with Holly Frey and Charles Stern for their thorough reviews, all of which have considerably improved this manuscript. KM was funded by a NERC Studentship; JSG acknowledges receipt of a 2001 Lancaster University Small Grant; DM received support from the OU Science Staff Tutor research fund; and JAN would like to thank Sernageomin’s PRV and Fondecyt Project No. 1960186.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katy Mee
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Jennie S. Gilbert
    • 1
  • David W. McGarvie
    • 2
  • José A. Naranjo
    • 3
  • Malcolm S. Pringle
    • 4
  1. 1.Lancaster Environment Centre, Faculty of Science and TechnologyLancaster UniversityLancasterUK
  2. 2.Department of Earth and Environmental SciencesThe Open UniversityMilton KeynesUK
  3. 3.Servicio Nacional de Geología y MineríaProvidenciaChile
  4. 4.Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary SciencesMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA
  5. 5.British Geological SurveyKeyworthUK

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