Bulletin of Volcanology

, 75:767 | Cite as

Evolution of the crustal magma plumbing system during the build-up to the 22-ka caldera-forming eruption of Santorini (Greece)

  • G. N. FabbroEmail author
  • T. H. Druitt
  • S. Scaillet
Research Article


The formation of shallow, caldera-sized reservoirs of crystal-poor silicic magma requires the generation of large volumes of silicic melt, followed by the segregation of that melt and its accumulation in the upper crust. The 21.8 ± 0.4-ka Cape Riva eruption of Santorini discharged >10 km3 of crystal-poor dacitic magma, along with <<1 km3 of hybrid andesite, and collapsed a pre-existing lava shield. We have carried out a field, petrological, chemical, and high-resolution 40Ar/39Ar chronological study of a sequence of lavas discharged prior to the Cape Riva eruption to constrain the crustal residence time of the Cape Riva magma reservoir. The lavas were erupted between 39 and 25 ka, forming a ∼2-km3 complex of dacitic flows, coulées and domes up to 200 m thick (Therasia dome complex). The Therasia dacites show little chemical variation with time, suggesting derivation from one or more thermally buffered reservoirs. Minor pyroclastic layers occur intercalated within the lava succession, particularly near the top. A prominent pumice fall deposit correlates with the 26-ka Y-4 ash layer found in deep-sea sediments SE of Santorini. One of the last Therasia lavas to be discharged was a hybrid andesite formed by the mixing of dacite and basalt. The Cape Riva eruption occurred no more than 2,800 ± 1,400 years after the final Therasia activity. The Cape Riva dacite is similar in major element composition to the Therasia dacites, but is poorer in K and most incompatible trace elements (e.g. Rb, Zr and LREE). The same chemical differences are observed between the Cape Riva and Therasia hybrid andesites, and between the calculated basaltic mixing end-members of each series. The Therasia and Cape Riva dacites are distinct silicic magma batches and are not related by shallow processes of crystal fractionation or assimilation. The Therasia lavas were therefore not simply precursory leaks from the growing Cape Riva magma reservoir. The change 21.8 ky ago from a magma series richer in incompatible elements to one poorer in those elements is one step in the well documented decrease with time of incompatibles in Santorini magmas over the last 530 ky. The two dacitic magma batches are interpreted to have been emplaced sequentially into the upper crust beneath the summit of the volcano, the first (Therasia) then being partially, or wholly, flushed out by the arrival of the second (Cape Riva). This constrains the upper-crustal residence time of the Cape Riva reservoir to less than 2,800 ± 1,400 years, and the associated time-averaged magma accumulation rate to >0.004 km3 year-1. Rapid ascent and accumulation of the Cape Riva dacite may have been caused by an increased flux of mantle-derived basalt into the crust, explaining the occurrence of hybrid andesites (formed by the mixing of olivine basalt and dacite in approximately equal proportions) in the Cape Riva and late Therasia products. Pressurisation of the upper crustal plumbing system by sustained, high-flux injection of dacite and basalt may have triggered the transition from prolonged, largely effusive activity to explosive eruption and caldera collapse.


Santorini Magma reservoirs Melt accumulation Crystal residence timescales Calderas 



The authors thank M Benbakkar and C Chauvel for providing major element and trace element analyses, respectively, and J-L Devidal for help with the electron microprobe. J Keller kindly drew our attention to the Y-4 deep-sea ash layer. E Klemetti, D Morgan and G Zellmer provided helpful reviews, and F Costa commented on an earlier version of the manuscript. The work was carried out in the framework of the project ‘Storage and Mixing at Santorini’ financed by the French Agence National de Recherche [ANR-08-BLAN-0249-01]. GN Fabbro was funded by the Région d’Auvergne. This is Laboratory of Excellence ClerVolc contribution number 76.

Supplementary material

445_2013_767_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (53 kb)
Supplementary Table S1 Full 40Ar/39Ar data (PDF 52 kb)
445_2013_767_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (4 kb)
Supplementary Table S2 Major element composition of glass from pumices in the Cape Tripiti deposit (PDF 4 kb)
445_2013_767_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (16 kb)
Supplementary Table S3 Major element composition, temperature and fO2 determinations for pairs of magnetite and ilmenite from Therasia pumices (PDF 15 kb)
445_2013_767_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (28 kb)
Supplementary Table S4 Whole rock and groundmass chemical analyses of the Therasia and Cape Riva deposits (PDF 28 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clermont Université, Université Blaise PascalLaboratoire Magmas et VolcansClermont-FerrandFrance
  2. 2.CNRS, UMR 6524, LMVClermont-FerrandFrance
  3. 3.IRD, R 163, LMVClermont-FerrandFrance
  4. 4.Institut des Sciences de la Terre d’Orleans (ISTO)INSU-CNRS-Université d’OrleansOrleansFrance

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