Skip to main content

Mineralized and unmineralized calderas in Spain; Part I, evolution of the Los Frailes Caldera


The Cabo de Gata volcanic field of southeastern Spain contains several recently-recognized calderas. Some of the calderas are mineralized with epithermal gold, alunite, and base metal deposits, and others are barren, and yet they formed under generally similar conditions. Comparison of the magmatic, geochemical, and physical evolution of the Los Frailes, Rodalquilar, and Lomilla calderas provides insight into the processes of caldera evolution that led to precious-metal mineralization. The Los Frailes caldera formed at 14.4 Ma and is the oldest caldera. It formed in response to multiple eruptions of hornblende dacite magma. Following each eruption, the area collapsed and the caldera was invaded by the sea. Dacite domes fill the lower part of the caldera. Pyroxene andesites were erupted through the solidified core of the caldera and were probably initially responsible for magma generation. The Los Frailes caldera did not evolve to rhyolites nor was it subjected to the amount of structural development that the younger, mineralized Rodalquilar and Lomilla calderas were.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  • Addicott, W.O., Snavely, P.D., Jr., Bukry, D., and Poore, R.Z.: Neogene stratigraphy and paleontology of southern Almeria Province, Spain: An overview: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 1454, 49 p. (1978)

  • Arribas, A., Rye, R.O., Rytuba, J.J., Cunningham, C.G., and Kelly, W.C.: Genesis of the Rodalquilar, gold deposit: Gold 89 in Europe, Abstracts with program, p. 24, (1989)

  • Bellon, H., Bordet, P., and Montenat, C.: Chronologie du magmatisme Néogéne des Cordillères Bétiques (Espagne meridionale): Bull. Soc. Geol. France 25: 205–217 (1983)

    Google Scholar 

  • Bordet, P.: Le volcanisme Miocene des Sierras de Gata et Carboneras (Espagne du Sud-Est): Documents et Travaux, Institut Geologique Albert de Lapparent, no. 8, 70 p., Paris, France (1985)

  • DiBattistini, G., Toscani, L., Iaccarino, S., and Villa, I.M.: K/Ar ages and the geological setting of calc-alkaline volcanic rocks from Sierra de Gata, SE Spain: Neues Jahrbuch für Mineralogie, Monatshefte 8:369–383 (1987)

    Google Scholar 

  • Doblas, M., and Oyarzun, R.: Neogene extensional collapse in the western Mediterranean (Betic-Rif Alpine organic belt): Implications for the genesis of the Gibraltar Arc and Magmatic activity: Geology 17:430–433, (1989)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Fernandez Soler, IM., and Muñoz, M.: Algunos modelos de facies en el volcanismo del Cabo de Gata: Importancia de las emisiones “multi-vent” en una zona calco-alcalina: II Congreso Geol. España, Simposio sobre volcanismo, p. 397–404 (1988)

  • Fuster, J.M., Aguilar, M.J., and García, A.: Las sucesiones valcánicas en la zona del Pozo de los Frailes dentro del vulcanismo cenozoico del Cabo de Gata (Almeria): Estudios Geológicos 21:199–222 (1965)

    Google Scholar 

  • Larouziére, F.D., Bolze, J., Bordet, P. Hernandez, J., Montenat, C., and Ott d'Esteveu, P.: The Betic segment of the lithospheric trans-Alboran shear during the late Miocene: Tectonophysics 152:41–52 (1988)

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • LopezRuiz, L., and Rodriguez Badiola, E.: La region volcánica Neógena del sureste de España: Estudios Geológicos 36:5–63 (1980)

    Google Scholar 

  • MartinEscorza, C. and LopezRuiz, I: Un modelo geodinámico para el volcanismo Neógeone del sureste Ibérico: Estudios Geológicos 44:243–251 (1988)

    Google Scholar 

  • Nobel, F.A., Andriessen, P.A.M., Andriessen, P.A., Hebeda, E.H., Prievn, H.N.A., and Rondeel, H.E.: Isotopic dating of the postAlpine Neogene volcanism in the Betic Cordilleras, southern Spain: Geol. Mijnbouw 60:209–214 (1981)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pineda, A., Giner, 1, Goy, J.L., and Zazo, C.: Mapa geológica de España a escala 1:50,000, 2a Série (MAGNA) No. 1,600 (El Pozo de los Frailes), Instituto Geológico y Minero de España, Madrid, España (1981)

    Google Scholar 

  • Pineda, Velasco, A.: Las mineralizaciones metálicas y su contexto geológica en el área volcánica Neógena del Cabo de Gata (Almeria, SE de España): Boletin Geológica y Minero 95–96:569–592 (1984)

    Google Scholar 

  • Rytuba, J.J., Arribas, A. Jr., Cunningham, C.G., Podwysocki, M.H., McKee, E.H., and Arribas, A., Sr: Rodalquilar deposits, Spain, First example of caldera-related epithermal gold mineralization in Europe: Part I, caldera evolution: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 20, no. 7, p. 351 (1988)

    Google Scholar 

  • Saavedra, J.L., Microfacies de los sedimentos intercalados en las formaciones volcánicas del Cabo de Gata (Almeria): Not. y Com. Instituto Geológica y Minero de España, No. 86, p. 41–74 (1966)

  • Sierra, J. and Leal, G.: El distrito aurfero del Rodalquilar, Cabo de Gata. Geológica, metalogenia, geoquimica e investigation minera: Informe Interno Empresa Nacional Adaro, Madrid (1968)

    Google Scholar 

  • Skilling's Mining Review: Cluff/Antofagasta developing Transaccion gold mine in Spain, v. 77, no. 13, March 26, 1988 (1988)

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Cunningham, C.G., Arribas, A., Rytuba, J.J. et al. Mineralized and unmineralized calderas in Spain; Part I, evolution of the Los Frailes Caldera. Mineral. Deposita 25, S21–S28 (1990).

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Breccia
  • Instrumental Neutron Activation Analysis
  • Lava Flow
  • Volcanic Field
  • Alunite