Eruptive history of a low-frequency and low-output rate Pleistocene volcano, Ciomadul, South Harghita Mts., Romania


Based on a new set of K–Ar age data and detailed field observations, the eruptive history of the youngest volcano in the whole Carpathian-Pannonian region was reconstructed. Ciomadul volcano is a dacitic dome complex located at the southeastern end of the Călimani-Gurghiu-Harghita Neogene volcanic range in the East Carpathians. It consists of a central group of extrusive domes (the Ciomadul Mare and Haramul Mare dome clusters and the Köves Ponk dome) surrounded by a number of isolated peripheral domes, some of them strongly eroded (Bálványos, Puturosul), and others topographically well preserved (Haramul Mic, Dealul Mare). One of the domes (Dealul Cetăţii) still preserves part of its original breccia envelope. A large number of bread-crust bombs found mostly along the southern slopes of the volcano suggest that the dome-building activity at Ciomadul was punctuated by short Vulcanian-type explosive events. Two late-stage explosive events that ended the volcanic activity of Ciomadul left behind two topographically well-preserved craters disrupting the central group of domes: the larger-diameter, shallower, and older Mohoş phreatomagmatic crater and the smaller, deeper and younger Sf. Ana (sub)Plinian crater. Phreatomagmatic products of the Mohoş center, including accretionary lapilli-bearing base-surge deposits and poorly sorted airfall deposits with impact sags, are known close to the eastern crater rim. A key section studied in detail south of Băile Tuşnad shows the temporal succession of eruptive episodes related to the Sf. Ana (sub)Plinian event, as well as relationships with the older dome-building stages. The age of this last eruptive event is loosely constrained by radiocarbon dating of charcoal pieces and paleosoil organic matter at ca. 27–35 ka. The age of the Mohoş eruption is not constrained, but we suggest that it is closely related to the Sf. Ana eruption. The whole volcanic history of Ciomadul spans over ca. 1 Myr, starting with the building up of peripheral domes and then concentrating in its central part. Ciomadul appears as a small-volume (ca. 8.74 km3) and very low-frequency and low-output rate volcano (ca. 9 km3/Myr) at the terminus of a gradually diminishing and extinguishing volcanic range. A number of geodynamically active features strongly suggest that the magma plumbing system beneath Ciomadul is not completely frozen, so future activity cannot be ruled out.

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This work was supported by a grant of the Ministry of National Education, CNCS—UEFISCDI, project number PN-II-ID-PCE-2012-4-0137. Field sampling and analytical work of K/Ar dating was supported by, and performed within the framework of bilateral cooperation agreement between the Romanian Academy and the Hungarian Academy of Science. The thoughtful comments and suggestions of improvement from reviewers Daisuke Miura, Andrew Calvert, and Paul Wallace are highly appreciated. We thank Norman Snelling for revision of the English. Răzvan-Gabriel Popa is thanked for his help in a previous version of Fig. 2.

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Szakács, A., Seghedi, I., Pécskay, Z. et al. Eruptive history of a low-frequency and low-output rate Pleistocene volcano, Ciomadul, South Harghita Mts., Romania. Bull Volcanol 77, 12 (2015).

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  • Pleistocene volcanism
  • East Carpathians
  • Ciomadul
  • Dacite dome complex
  • Phreatomagmatic craters
  • Volcanic evolution
  • Radiometric ages