Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 472–495 | Cite as

Post-caldera dacites from the Santorini volcanic complex, Aegean Sea, Greece: an example of the eruption of lavas of near-constant composition over a 2,200 year period

  • Michael Barton
  • Joep P. P. Huijsmans


The post-caldera Kameni islands of the Santorini volcanic complex, Aegean Sea, Greece are entirely volcanic and were formed by eleven eruptions between 197 B.C. and 1950. Petrographic, mineral chemical and whole-rock major and trace element data are presented for samples of lava collected from the products of seven eruptive cycles which span the entire period of activity. The main phenocryst phases are plagioclase, clinopyroxene, orthopyroxene and titaniferous magnetite, which are weakly zoned (e.g. plagioclase — An55 to An42). The lavas are typical calc-alkaline dacites and show a restricted range of composition (from 64.1 to 68.4 wt. % SiO2). The phenocrysts were in equilibrium with the melts at temperatures of 960–1012 °C, pressures of 800–1500 bars and oxygen fugacities of 10−9.6-10−9.9 bars. The pre-eruptive water content of the magmas was 3–4 wt. % but since the lavas contain only 0.1–0.4 wt. % H2O, a considerable amount (about 0.01–0.015 km3) of water was lost prior to or during eruption. This indicates that the magmas rose to the surface gradually allowing the (largely) non-explosive loss of volatiles. The lavas were probably extruded initially from more or less cylindrical conduits which developed into fissures as the eruptions proceeded. The post-caldera lavas evolved from more mafic parental magmas (basalt-andesite) via fractional crystallization. The small range of compositional variation shown by these lavas can be explained in terms of near-equilibrium crystallization. Analyses of samples of lavas belonging to single eruption cycles and to individual flows indicate that the underlying magma chamber is compositionally zoned. The average composition of erupted magma has remained approximately constant since 1570 A.D. but that fact that the 197 B.C. magma was sligthly richer in SiO2 provides additional evidence that the magma chamber is compositionally zoned. Crystal settling has not affected the composition of the magma over a 2,200 year period of time which indicates that the melts do not behave as Newtonian fluids. Zonation was thus probably established prior to the 197 B.C. eruption though it is possible that it is developed and maintained by crystal-liquid differentiation processes other than crystal settling (e.g. boundary layer crystallization). The data indicate that there has been no significant cooling during 2,200 years; the maximum amount of cooling is <50 °C and is probably less than ∼30 °C. Two hypotheses are considered to explain the thermal and chemical buffering of the post-caldera magma chamber: (i) The magma chamber is large and heat losses due to conduction are largely compensated by latent heat supplied by thick, partially crystalline cumulate sequences. (ii) Periodic influx of hot mafic magma, which does not mix with the dacitic magma, inhibits cooling. The second alternative is favored because the post-caldera lavas differ geochemically from the pre-caldera lavas which signifies that a new batch of magma was formed and/or emplaced after the catastrophic eruption of 1390 B.C., and hence that mafic magmas may still be reaching upper crustal levels.


Magma Chamber Mafic Magma Trace Element Data Titaniferous Magnetite Dacitic Magma 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Barton
    • 1
  • Joep P. P. Huijsmans
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geology and MineralogyThe Ohio State University ColumbusUSA
  2. 2.Department of Petrology, Institute of Earth SciencesState University of UtrechtCD UtrechtThe Netherlands

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