The role of magma mixing/mingling and cumulate melting in the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff caldera-forming eruption (Campi Flegrei, Southern Italy)

  • Francesca Forni
  • Eleonora Petricca
  • Olivier Bachmann
  • Silvio Mollo
  • Gianfilippo De Astis
  • Monica Piochi
Original Paper


Understanding the mechanisms responsible for the generation of chemical gradients in high-volume ignimbrites is key to retrieve information on the processes that control the maturation and eruption of large silicic magmatic reservoirs. Over the last 60 ky, two large ignimbrites showing remarkable zoning were emplaced during caldera-forming eruptions at Campi Flegrei (i.e., Campanian Ignimbrite, CI, ~ 39 ka and Neapolitan Yellow Tuff, NYT, ~ 15 ka). While the CI displays linear compositional, thermal and crystallinity gradients, the NYT is a more complex ignimbrite characterized by crystal-poor magmas ranging in composition from trachy-andesites to phonolites. By combining major and trace element compositions of matrix glasses and mineral phases from juvenile clasts located at different stratigraphic heights along the NYT pyroclastic sequence, we interpret such compositional gradients as the result of mixing/mingling between three different magmas: (1) a resident evolved magma showing geochemical characteristics of a melt extracted from a cumulate mush dominated by clinopyroxene, plagioclase and oxides with minor sanidine and biotite; (2) a hotter and more mafic magma from recharge providing high-An plagioclase and high-Mg clinopyroxene crystals and (3) a compositionally intermediate magma derived from remelting of low temperature mineral phases (i.e., sanidine and biotite) within the cumulate crystal mush. We suggest that the presence of a refractory crystal mush, as documented by the occurrence of abundant crystal clots containing clinopyroxene, plagioclase and oxides, is the main reason for the lack of erupted crystal-rich material in the NYT. A comparison between the NYT and the CI, characterized by both crystal-poor extracted melts and crystal-rich magmas representing remobilized portions of a “mature” (i.e., sanidine dominated) cumulate residue, allows evaluation of the capability of crystal mushes of becoming eruptible upon recharge.


Zoned ignimbrites Caldera-forming eruption Cumulate melting Magma mixing Neapolitan Yellow Tuff Campi Flegrei 



We would like to thank Lukas Martin, Marcel Guillong and Oscar Laurent for their assistance during the microprobe and laser analyses. We are indebted to Vanni Tecchiato and Albrecht Von Quadt for helping with isotopic analyses. Gianluca Minin is gratefully acknowledged for providing access to the Galleria Borbonica. We are grateful to John Wolff, Ben Ellis and Dawid Szymanowski for thoughtful discussions which helped us to improve the manuscript. We express our gratitude to two anonymous referees for constructive reviews and to Othmar Müntener for the editorial efforts. This project has been supported by Swiss National Science Foundation Grant 200021_146268 to Olivier Bachmann.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Francesca Forni
    • 1
  • Eleonora Petricca
    • 1
  • Olivier Bachmann
    • 1
  • Silvio Mollo
    • 2
    • 3
  • Gianfilippo De Astis
    • 3
  • Monica Piochi
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute of Geochemistry and PetrologyETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze della TerraSapienza-Università di RomaRomeItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaRomeItaly
  4. 4.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio VesuvianoNaplesItaly

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