Quaternary silicic pyroclastic deposits of Atitlán Caldera, Guatemala

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Atitlán caldera has been the site of several silicic eruptions within the last 150,000 years, following a period of basalt/andesite volcanism. The silicic volcanism began with 5–10 km3 of rhyodacites, erupted as plinian fall and pyroclastic flows, about 126,000 yr. B.P. At 85,000 yr. B.P. 270–280 km3 of compositionally distinct rhyolite was erupted in the Los Chocoyos event which produced widely dispersed, plinian fall deposits and widespread, mobile pyroclastic flows. In the latter parts of this eruption rhyodacite and minor dacite were erupted which compositionally resembled the earliest silicic magmas of the Atitlán center. As a result of this major eruption, the modern Atitlán (III) caldera formed. Following this event, rhyodacites were again erupted in smaller (5–13 km3) volumes, partly through the lake, and mafic volcanism resumed, forming three composite volcanoes within the caldera. The bimodal mafic/silicic Atitlán volcanism is similar to that which has occurred elsewhere in the Guatemalan Highlands, but is significantly more voluminous. Mafic lavas are thought to originate in the mantle, but rise, intrude and underplate the lower crust and partly escape to the surface. Eventually, silicic melts form in the crust, possibly partly derived from underplated basaltic material, rise, crystallize and erupt. The renewed mafic volcanism could reflect either regional magmato-tectonic adjustment after the large silicic eruption or the onset of a new cycle.

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© 1987 Published by Elsevier B.V. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1016/0377-0273(87)90054-0

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Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research