A 5000-year record of multiple highly explosive mafic eruptions from Gunung Agung (Bali, Indonesia): implications for eruption frequency and volcanic hazards

  • Karen FontijnEmail author
  • Fidel Costa
  • Igan Sutawidjaja
  • Christopher G. Newhall
  • Jason S. Herrin
Research Article


The 1963 AD eruption of Agung volcano was one of the most significant twentieth century eruptions in Indonesia, both in terms of its explosivity (volcanic explosivity index (VEI) of 4+) and its short-term climatic impact as a result of around 6.5 Mt SO2 emitted during the eruption. Because Agung has a significant potential to generate more sulphur-rich explosive eruptions in the future and in the wake of reported geophysical unrest between 2007 and 2011, we investigated the Late Holocene tephrostratigraphic record of this volcano using stratigraphic logging, and geochemical and geochronological analyses. We show that Agung has an average eruptive frequency of one VEI ≥2–3 eruptions per century. The Late Holocene eruptive record is dominated by basaltic andesitic eruptions generating tephra fall and pyroclastic density currents. About 25 % of eruptions are of similar or larger magnitude than the 1963 AD event, and this includes the previous eruption of 1843 AD (estimated VEI 5, contrary to previous estimations of VEI 2). The latter represents one of the chemically most evolved products (andesite) erupted at Agung. In the Late Holocene, periods of more intense explosive activity alternated with periods of background eruptive rates similar to those at other subduction zone volcanoes. All eruptive products at Agung show a texturally complex mineral assemblage, dominated by plagioclase, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and olivine, suggesting recurring open-system processes of magmatic differentiation. We propose that erupted magmas are the result of repeated intrusions of basaltic magmas into basaltic andesitic to andesitic reservoirs producing a hybrid of bulk basaltic andesitic composition with limited compositional variations.


Agung Tephrostratigraphy Eruptive history Basaltic andesite Magma mixing Magma mingling 



We thank CVGHM for logistic support during fieldwork and RISTEK for research permits. We are grateful to Anwar Sidik, I Nengah Wardhana and Dewa Mertheyash from the Rendang Volcano Observatory for their hospitality and help in the field. Ryuta Furukawa is thanked for introductions to key outcrops. Tanya Furman is kindly acknowledged for sharing the work by Doust (2003). Reviews by John Pallister and Mary-Ann del Marmol, and editorial handling by James Gardner were greatly appreciated. Fieldwork and laboratory analyses were funded by the Earth Observatory of Singapore. Data interpretation and writing was performed at Oxford (NERC grant NE/I013210/1) and Ghent universities.

Supplementary material

445_2015_943_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (42 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (XLSX 42 kb)
445_2015_943_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (288 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 (XLSX 288 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth Observatory of SingaporeNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Department of Geology and Soil ScienceGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  4. 4.Centre for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, Geological AgencyBandungIndonesia
  5. 5.Mirisbiris Garden and Nature CenterSto DomingoPhilippines
  6. 6.Facility for Analysis Characterisation Testing Simulation, School of Materials, Science and EngineeringNanyang Technological UniversitySingaporeSingapore

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