Bulletin of Volcanology

, 76:798 | Cite as

Tephrochronology of the Mont-Dore volcanic Massif (Massif Central, France): new 40Ar/39Ar constraints on the Late Pliocene and Early Pleistocene activity

  • Sébastien NomadeEmail author
  • Jean-François Pastre
  • Pierre Nehlig
  • Hervé Guillou
  • Vincent Scao
  • Stéphane Scaillet
Research Article


The Mont-Dore Massif (500 km2), the youngest stratovolcano of the French Massif Central, consists of two volcanic edifices: the Guéry and the Sancy. To improve our knowledge of the oldest explosive stages of the Mont-Dore Massif, we studied 40Ar/39Ar-dated (through single-grain laser and step-heating experiments) 11 pyroclastic units from the Guéry stratovolcano. We demonstrate that the explosive history of the Guéry can be divided into four cycles of explosive eruption activity between 3.09 and 1.46 Ma (G.I to G.IV). We have also ascertained that deposits associated with the 3.1–3.0-Ma rhyolitic activity, which includes the 5-km3 “Grande Nappe” ignimbrite, are not recorded in the central part of the Mont-Dore Massif. All the pyroclastites found in the left bank of the Dordogne River belong to a later explosive phase (2.86–2.58 Ma, G.II) and were channelled down into valleys or topographic lows where they are currently nested. This later activity also gave rise to most of the volcanic products in the Perrier Plateau (30 km east of the Mont-Dore Massif); three quarters of the volcano-sedimentary sequence (up to 100 m thick) was emplaced within less than 20 ky, associated with several flank collapses in the northeastern part of the Guéry. The age of the “Fournet flora” (2.69 ± 0.01 Ma) found within an ash bed belonging to G.II suggests that temperate forests already existed in the French Massif Central before the Pliocene/Pleistocene boundary. The Guéry’s third explosive eruption activity cycle (G.III) lasted between 2.36 and 1.91 Ma. It encompassed the Guéry Lake and Morangie pumice and ash deposits, as well as seven other important events recorded as centimetric ash beds some 60 to 100 km southeast of the Massif in the Velay region. We propose a general tephrochronology for the Mont-Dore stratovolcano covering the last 3.1 My. This chronology is based on 44 40Ar/39Ar-dated events belonging to eight explosive eruption cycles each lasting between 100 and 200 ky. The occurrence of only one pumice deposit in the 800-ky period between 1.9 and 1.1 Ma suggests that volcanic explosive activity was strongly reduced or quiescent.


Mont-Dore Plio-Pleistocene 40Ar/39Ar Pyroclastic activity Flank collapse 



This work was supported by the French Geological Survey (BRGM) and the DSM (CEA Saclay). The authors would like to thank Dr. B. Platevoet for helpful discussions and Dr. J.L. Joron for the sample irradiations carried out at the Pierre Süe Laboratory (CEA Saclay). LSCE contribution no. 5245.

Supplementary material

445_2014_798_MOESM1_ESM.xls (48 kb)
Table T1 (XLS 48 kb)
445_2014_798_MOESM2_ESM.xls (127 kb)
Table T2 (XLS 127 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sébastien Nomade
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jean-François Pastre
    • 2
  • Pierre Nehlig
    • 3
  • Hervé Guillou
    • 1
  • Vincent Scao
    • 1
  • Stéphane Scaillet
    • 4
  1. 1.Laboratoire des Sciences du Climat et de l’Environnement, IPSL, CEA-CNRS-UVSQGif-sur-Yvette CedexFrance
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Géographie Physique, UMR 8591 CNRSMeudon CedexFrance
  3. 3.BRGMOrléans Cedex 2France
  4. 4.Institut des Sciences de la Terre d’OrléansCNRS-Université d’OrléansOrléans Cedex 2France

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