Date of Award


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Geology (MS)

College, School or Department Name

Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


William I Rose


Two volcanic debris avalanche deposits (VDADs), both attributed to sector collapse at Volcán Barú, Panama, have been identified after an investigation of deposits that covered more than a thousand square kilometers. The younger Barriles Deposit is constrained by two radiocarbon ages that are ~9 ka; the older Caisán Deposit is at or beyond the radiocarbon range, >43,500 ybp. The total runout length of the Caisán Deposit was ~50 km and it covers 1190 km2. The Barriles Deposit extended to about 45 km and covered an area of 966 km2, overlapping most of the Caisán. The VDADs are blanketed by pyroclastic deposits and contain a predominance of andesitic material likely representing volcanic dome rock which accumulated above the active vent at Barú before collapsing. Despite heavy vegetation in the field area, over 4000 individual hummocks were digitized from aerial photography. Statistical analysis of hummock locations and geometries depict flow patterns of highly- fragmented material reflecting the effects of underlying topography and also help to define the limit of Barriles’ shorter termination.

Barriles and Caisán are primarily unconfined, subaerial volcanic deposits that are among the world’s most voluminous. Calculated through two different geospatial processes, thickness values from field measurements and inferences yield volumes >30 km23 for both deposits. VDADs of comparable scale come from Mount Shasta, USA; Socompa, Chile/Argentina; and Shiveluch, Russia. Currently, the modern edifice is 200-400m lower than the pre-collapse Barriles and Caisán summits and only 16-25% of the former edifice has been replaced since the last failure.

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