Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Combining ash analyses with remote sensing to identify juvenile magma involvement and fragmentation mechanisms during the 2018/19 small eruption of Peteroa volcano (Southern Andes)

July 2, 2020

The Planchón Peteroa Volcanic Complex (PPVC) is located on the border of Chile and Argentina, and is one of the most active volcanic systems in the Andes. Holocene activity has included magma-water interaction with an evolving series of crater lakes, mainly sourced from Peteroa volcano. This study examines data from the 2018/19 eruption, together with the volcanic history of the PPVC, to elucidate the complex interplay between magmatic activity and summit water and ice. From February 2016 to mid-2019, three seismic swarms occurred in the PPVC, preceding the explosive eruption from September 2018 to April 2019. The activity originated from a small vent nested within the easternmost crater, the most active portion of the complex (Peteroa). The explosions interacted with a crater lake, producing ash plumes up to 2 km above the crater and building a small tephra cone. To investigate the eruption mechanisms, we performed remote sensing analysis of plume dispersal, thermal anomalies and ground deformation, and characterized the volcanic products, including grain size, componentry, morphology, internal textures, composition and mineralogy. Our results suggest that the precursory seismicity beginning in 2016 was related to the intrusion of a new magma batch that reached the surface during the 2018/19 eruption. The eruption was also preceded by thermal anomalies, geomorphic changes and increased hydrothermal activity at the surface, though without any ground deformation recognized through radar interferometry (InSAR). The eruption initially produced predominantly recycled ash (phreatic activity), then evolved to increasing proportions of juvenile magma (phreatomagmatic) by April 2019. The juvenile clasts had a trachyandesite composition (~59 wt% SiO2), with vesicular and dense scoria containing plagioclase and pyroxene. The ash surfaces show external quenching cracks and step fractures consistent with phreatomagmatic fragmentation within the active crater lake. Textural characteristics also point to a slowly ascending batch of magma that was relatively viscous by the time it interacted with water in the crater lake. Notably, these juvenile particles are distinctive from the pre-2018 products. Ash erupted from 2010/11 did not contain recognizable juvenile material, and is inferred to have been a mainly phreatic eruption. Our findings suggest that the interplay between phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions fed by small magma batches intruding at shallow levels characterize much of the eruptive behavior of the PPVC during the last three decades. Multi-parametric assessment is a powerful tool to discriminate between phreatic and phreatomagmatic eruptions.

Publication Year 2020
Title Combining ash analyses with remote sensing to identify juvenile magma involvement and fragmentation mechanisms during the 2018/19 small eruption of Peteroa volcano (Southern Andes)
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2020.106984
Authors Jorge E Romero, Felipe Aguilera, Francisco Delgado, Danny Guzmán, Alexa R. Van Eaton, Nicolás Luengo, Javiera Caro, Jorge Bustillos, Alicia Guevara, Sven Holbik, Daniel Tormey, Iver Zegarra
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70219457
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center