Post-caldera volcanism reveals shallow priming of an intra-ocean arc andesitic caldera: Hunga volcano, Tonga, SW Pacific

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Marco Brenna, Shane Cronin, Ian Smith, Alessio Pontesilli, Manuela Tost, Simon Barker, Sisi Tongaonevai


Intra-oceanic arcs are typically associated with intermediate (andesitic) cone volcanoes. However, caldera volcanoes may also form in these settings from very large eruptions, resulting in sudden changes to the magma reservoir. These reservoirs can then produce either
semi-continuous or intermittent low-intensity volcanism between major caldera-producing or caldera-deepening eruptions, providing insights into the post-caldera evolution of the system. Hunga volcano (Kingdom of Tonga, Southwest Pacific) is a large mainly submarine edifice
that produced a series of caldera-forming eruptions ~900 years ago. Since then, numerous smaller-scale subaerial and submarine eruptions occurred, the most recent forming new islands in 2009 and 2014/15. Pyroclastic deposits associated with these latest eruptions have identical
(range ~0.1 wt.% of all major oxides) andesitic composition that overlap with the primitive end of the slightly wider compositional range of the caldera-forming episodes. Texturally simple plagioclase, clinopyroxene and orthopyroxene phenocrysts in pre-, syn- and post-caldera pyroclasts point to a single shallow storage reservoir at 5–8 km depth. Lack of complex zonation indicates that this reservoir is constantly resupplied by low-flux inputs of basaltic andesite magma and is large enough that convective mixing rapidly homogenises new inputs. The reservoir feeds intermittent, low-intensity, post-caldera volcanism with constant andesite composition, driven possibly by magmatic overpressure and “leakage” of gas-rich magma pockets around the edges of the caldera. More primitive and compositionally variable basaltic andesites formed a lava-dominated edifice prior to the caldera-forming event. This suggests a causal link between magma supply dynamics and caldera priming relating to the maturing of the plumbing system and formation of a sustained subvolcanic andesite magma reservoir.



Physical Sciences and Mathematics


Hunga volcano, Tonga, Caldera, Andesite, Volcano


Published: 2022-01-18 14:12

Last Updated: 2022-01-18 22:11

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