Vulsini (Italy)

Status Unknown Eruption -104 800m
Caldera (Subduction zone / Continental crust (> 25 km))


The Vulsini volcanic complex in central Italy covers about 2200 km2 at the northern end of the Roman magmatic province. Following lava extrusion and explosive eruptions that constructed the main Vulsini complex, the 16-km-wide, lake-filled Bolsena caldera on the east and the 8 x 11 km Latera caldera on the west were formed during major Pleistocene explosive eruptions at about 0.3 and 0.16 million years ago, respectively. Five major Plinian fall deposits were erupted from vents at or near Latera caldera during the late Pleistocene. The latest major eruption formed unwelded pumice flows and welded airfall tuffs of the Pitigliano Formation, associated with collapse of the Vepe caldera about 166,000 years ago at the NW end of Latera caldera. Post-caldera volcanism produced scoria cones and lava flows from vents within and to the west of Latera caldera and lasted until subrecent times. Youthful-looking remnants of ash cones in Lake Bolsena may have given rise to a legend of a pre-historical fire-god, Volta. An historical report noted that "a flame shot up near Volsini" in 104 BCE.

The 16-km-wide Bolsena caldera, filled by the waters of Lago di Bolsena, is the most prominent feature of the Vulsini volcanic complex NW of Rome. The 2000 sq km volcanic complex also includes the Latera caldera to the west. Both calderas were formed during the Pleistocene. Post-caldera eruptions produced scoria cones, lava flows, and youthful-looking, ash-cone islands in Lago di Bolsena that may have given origin to legends of a fire god.

Photo by Richard Waitt, 1985 (U.S. Geological Survey).

Last updated 2019-08-04 00:28:02

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