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An eruptive history of Maderas volcano using new 40Ar/39Ar ages and geochemical analyses

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Maderas volcano is a small, andesitic stratovolcano located on the island of Ometepe in Lake Nicaragua, Nicaragua, with no record of historic activity. Twenty-one samples were collected in 2010 from lava flows of Maderas. The selected samples were analyzed for whole-rock geochemistry using ICP-AES and/or were dated using the 40Ar/39Ar method. The results of these analyses were combined with previously collected data from Maderas as well as field observations to determine the eruptive history of the volcano and create a geologic map. The results of the geochemical analyses indicate that Maderas has higher concentrations of alkalies than most Nicaraguan and Costa Rican volcanoes including its nearest neighbor, Concepción volcano. It is also different from Concepción in that it displays higher incompatible elements. Determined age dates range from 179.2 ± 16.4 ka to 70.5 ± 6.1 ka. Based on these ages and the geomorphology of the volcano which is characterized by a bisecting graben, it is proposed that Maderas experienced two generations of development: initial build-up of the older cone including pre-graben lava flows, followed by post-graben lava flows. The ages also indicate that Maderas is markedly older than Concepción which is historically active. Volcanic hazards were also assessed. The 40Ar/39Ar ages indicate that Maderas has likely been inactive for tens of thousands of years and future volcanic eruptions are not considered an immediate hazard. However, earthquake and lahar hazards exist for the communities around the volcano. The steep slopes of the eroded older cone are the most likely sources of lahar hazards.

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This study was supported by US National Science Foundation PIRE Grant #0530109. The costs of the first author’s time in the field at Maderas were paid by the US Peace Corps. We thank Lucie Mathieu for allowing us to use samples that she collected from Maderas and Ben van Wyk de Vries for sharing his expertise of Nicaraguan volcanoes and chemical analyses of many samples from Ometepe. Heather Cunningham is thanked for her support in preparing the samples for 40Ar/39Ar analysis.

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Correspondence to Lara Kapelanczyk.

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Editorial responsibility: J.E. Gardner

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Kapelanczyk, L., Rose, W.I. & Jicha, B. An eruptive history of Maderas volcano using new 40Ar/39Ar ages and geochemical analyses. Bull Volcanol 74, 2007–2021 (2012).

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