Large-volume lava flows fed by a deep magmatic reservoir at Ağrı Dağı (Ararat) volcano, Eastern Turkey

Abstract

Ağrı Dağı (Ararat), whilst being the tallest volcano in Turkey, is largely understudied. Two predominant peaks, Greater and Lesser Ağrı, make up the main edifice, which has been built during four main phases. The most recent phase consisted of two volcanic eruptions. The respective surface area and volume of the first volcanic eruption were estimated at 96 km2 and 3.2 km3, whereas those of the second eruption were much smaller with the surface area and volume estimated at 25 km2 and 0.6 km3. It is unusual for stratovolcanoes to produce basaltic eruptions of more than 3 km3, although these and larger volumes are not uncommon in flood basalt-type eruptions. Large basaltic eruptions from stratovolcanoes normally require volcano-tectonic forcing (e.g. subsidence of collapse caldera and graben). However, there is no evidence for such volcano-tectonic forcing, during the most recent eruptions at Ağrı Dağı (Ararat), and therefore, their comparatively large volume basaltic lavas need to be explained in a different way. Here, we present an analytical method for calculating the source volume needed to supply magma to the eruptions at Ağrı Dağı. We found that the lava flow of 3.2 km3 was likely fed by a very large magma reservoir (∼13,000 km3), while the second flow of 0.6 km3 was fed by a reservoir of a much smaller effective size (or ∼2000 km3). ‘Effective size’ depends on what fraction of the reservoir participates in the eruption. We propose that the entire reservoir supplied magma to the larger eruption, but only one of its compartments (about one fifth of the total volume of the reservoir) supplied magma to the smaller eruption. Although seismic tomography indicates a magma reservoir at great depths (>20–30 km) below the Ağrı Dağı volcano, geochemical constraints on some of the later-formed rocks suggest an interaction between a shallow chamber (at 8–10-km depth) and the deep reservoir approximately 0.5 Ma. We provide numerical models whose results indicate that dykes injected from the lateral margins of the deep-seated reservoir are more likely to reach the surface directly rather than replenish the shallow magma chamber, suggesting also that the compartment for the second eruption was at the margin of the reservoir.

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Acknowledgements

Özgür Karaoğlu is supported by The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TUBITAK) International Postdoctoral Research Fellowship Programme. John Browning is supported by NERC project NE/N002938/1. We are grateful to the Editor Valerio Acocella and the reviewers, Alessandro Tibaldi and an anonymous reviewer, for comments which greatly improved this work. This study is dedicated to the memory of Okan Delibaş.

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Karaoğlu, Ö., Elshaafi, A., Salah, M.K. et al. Large-volume lava flows fed by a deep magmatic reservoir at Ağrı Dağı (Ararat) volcano, Eastern Turkey. Bull Volcanol 79, 15 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00445-016-1098-0

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Keywords

  • Large eruptions
  • Magma chambers
  • Magma reservoirs
  • Volcano-tectonic forcing
  • Crustal stresses
  • Numerical models