The shape and distribution of Maar craters using the MaarVLS database.

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Alison H. Graettinger


A maar crater is the top of a much larger subsurface diatreme structure produced by phreatomagmatic explosions and the size and shape of the crater reflects the growth history of that structure during an eruption. Recent experimental and geophysical research has shown that crater complexity can reflect subsurface complexity. Morphometry provides a means of characterizing a global population of maar craters in order to establish the typical size and shape of features. A global database of Quaternary maar crater planform morphometry indicates that maar craters are typically not circular and frequently have compound shapes resembling overlapping circles. Maar craters occur in volcanic fields that contain both small volume and complex volcanoes. The global perspective provided by the database shows that maars are common in many volcanic and tectonic settings producing a similar diversity of size and shape within and between volcanic fields. A few exceptional populations of maars were revealed by the database, highlighting directions of future research to improve our understanding on the geometry and spacing of subsurface explosions that produce maars. These outlying populations, such as anomalously large craters (> 3000 m), chains of maars, and volcanic fields composed of mostly maar craters each represent a small portion of the database, but provide opportunities to reinvestigate fundamental questions on maar formation. Maar crater morphometry can be integrated with structural, hydrological studies to investigate lateral migration of phreatomagmatic explosion location in the subsurface. A comprehensive database of intact maar morphometry is also beneficial for the hunt for maar-diatremes on other planets.



Earth Sciences, Physical Sciences and Mathematics, Volcanology


Database, crater, elongation, maar, morphometry


Published: 2018-04-12 02:07


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

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