Bulletin of Volcanology

, 71:1195 | Cite as

Chronostratigraphy of Monte Vulture volcano (southern Italy): secondary mineral microtextures and 39Ar-40Ar systematics

Research Article


The eruptive history of Monte Vulture has been the subject of several geochronological investigations during the past decades, which reliably dated only a small number of eruptions. Understanding the causes of sub-optimum data yield in the past requires an interdisciplinary approach. We re-analyzed samples from previous works and present new data on samples from the main volcano-stratigraphic units of Monte Vulture, so as to provide an improved, consistent chronostratigraphic database. Imaging of minerals by cathodoluminescence and backscattered electrons reveals that heterochemical, high-temperature deuteric reaction textures are ubiquitous. Such observations are common in metamorphic rocks but had not frequently been reported from volcanic rocks. In view of the mineralogical complexity, we base our chronological interpretation on isochemical steps, defined as steps for which the Cl/K and/or the Ca/K ratios are constant. Isochemical steps carry the isotopic signature of chemically homogeneous mineral phases and therefore allow a well-constrained age interpretation. Comparison of old and new 39Ar-40Ar data proves the reproducibility of age spectra and their shapes. This quantifies the analytical reliability of the irradiation and mass-spectrometric analyses. Anomalous age spectra are a reproducible property of some specific samples and correlate with mineralogical anomalies. The present data allow us to fine-tune the age of the volcanostratigraphic units of Monte Vulture during the known interval of main volcanic activity from ca. 740 to 610 ka. After a very long stasis, the volcanic activity in the Monte Vulture area resumed with diatremic eruptions, one of which (Lago Piccolo di Monticchio, the site of a palynological-paleoclimatological drilling) was dated at ca. 140 ka.


39Ar-40Ar dating Isochemical ages Monte Vulture volcano Deuteric reactions Monticchio Lakes Melfi haüynophyre Campanian Ignimbrite 



This work was partly supported by Swiss National Science Foundation grants No. 21-63866.00 and 200020-100230. I.M.V. wishes to warmly thank Luigi La Volpe for many discussions and for starting the dating work a long time ago together with Sergio Borsi and Giorgio Ferrara, who both did not live to see it completed. Over two decades, Carlo Quercioli and Giuliana De Grandis separated mineral phases from samples of Monte Vulture collection at Istituto di Geocronologia, Pisa. Claudia Principe provided VUT and PG samples. Edwin Gnos and Karl Ramseyer greatly helped to characterize mineral microtextures. Three anonymous referees and Associate Editor Raffaello Cioni provided constructive criticism.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institut für GeologieUniversität BernBernSwitzerland
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze Geologiche e GeotecnologieUniversità di Milano BicoccaMilanoItaly
  3. 3.LPK GmbHFrankfurtGermany

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