Tephra dispersal during the Campanian Ignimbrite (Italy) eruption: implications for ultra-distal ash transport during the large caldera-forming eruption

  • Victoria C. SmithEmail author
  • Roberto Isaia
  • Sam L. Engwell
  • Paul. G. Albert
Research Article


The Campanian Ignimbrite eruption dispersed ash over much of the central eastern Mediterranean Sea and eastern Europe. The eruption started with a Plinian phase that was followed by a series of pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) associated with the collapse of the Plinian column and the caldera. The glass compositions of the deposits span a wide geochemical range, but the Plinian fallout and PDCs associated with column collapse, the Lower Pumice Flow, only erupted the most evolved compositions. The later PDCs, the Breccia Museo and Upper Pumice Flow, erupted during and after caldera collapse, tap a less evolved component, and intermediate compositions that represent mixing between the end-members. The range of glass compositions in the Campanian Ignimbrite deposits from sites across the central and eastern Mediterranean Sea allow us to trace the dispersal of the different phases of this caldera-forming eruption. We map the fallout from the Plinian column and the plumes of fine material associated with the PDCs (co-PDCs) across the entire dispersal area. This cannot be done using the usual grain-size methods as deposits in these distal regions do not retain characteristics that allow attribution to either the Plinian or co-PDC phases. The glass compositions of the tephra at ultra-distal sites (>1500 km from the vent) match those of the uppermost PDC units, suggesting that most of the ultra-distal dispersal was associated with the late co-PDC plume that was generated during caldera collapse.


Campanian Ignimbrite Caldera-forming eruption Ash dispersal co-PDC Plinian Tephra 



Enrico Iannuzzi, Madeleine Humphreys, Richard Brooker, Jenny Riker, Darren Mark, Tony Hinchliffe and Mike Stock helped with some of the proximal field sampling. PGA is funded by a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship. We thank Antonio Costa for comments on a draft of the manuscript, Michael Ort and an anonymous reviewer for detailed reviews and Costanza Bonadonna for constructive comments and editorial handling.

Supplementary material

445_2016_1037_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (105 kb)
SM 1 Glass analyses of the proximal Campanian Ignimbrite samples analysed in this study (see Table 1 for sample details). (PDF 104 kb)
445_2016_1037_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (119 kb)
SM 2 Glass analyses of distal Campanian Ignimbrite tephras analysed in this study (see Table 2 for sample details). (PDF 119 kb)
445_2016_1037_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (83 kb)
SM 3 Analyses of the MPI-DING reference glasses (Jochum et al. 2006) that were used as secondary standards for analytical runs on the electron microprobe. (PDF 82 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Victoria C. Smith
    • 1
    Email author
  • Roberto Isaia
    • 2
  • Sam L. Engwell
    • 3
  • Paul. G. Albert
    • 1
  1. 1.Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of ArtUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia, Osservatorio VesuvianoNaplesItaly
  3. 3.Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e VulcanologiaPisaItaly

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