North America isnt the only continent thats experienced super-colossal volcanic eruptions in the recent geologic past. The massive explosion of the almost unknown Vilama Caldera in Argentina appears to have matched Yellowstones last continent-blanketing blast. It may, in fact, be just one of several unappreciated supervolcanoes hidden in a veritable mega-volcano nursery called the Eduardo Avaroa Caldera Complex, located in the inhospitable Puna-Altiplano region near the tri-section of Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile.
"Vilama Caldera formed during a single event that emitted approximately 2000 cubic kilometers (almost 500 cubic miles) of pyroclastic material," said geologist Miguel M. Soler of the National University of Jujuy in San Salvador de Jujuy, Argentina. The volume of ash and pyroclastic material, called ignimbrites, produced by the 8.4 million-year-old eruption, and the size of the associated caldera, put it among the world’s largest known eruptions, he says.
"In contrast, for example, Yellowstone produced its important volumes of ignimbrites and lavas in three cataclysmic events. Eruptions at 2.0, 1.3, and 0.6 million years ago ejected huge volumes of rhyolite magma, and each formed a caldera and extensive layers of thick pyroclastic flow deposits," said Soler. Soler will present some of the recent groundbreaking work on Vilama supervolcano on Monday, 3 April at Backbone of the Americas - Patagonia to Alaska. The meeting is co-convened by the Geological Society of America and the Asociación Geológica Argentina, with collaboration of the Sociedad Geológica de Chile. The meeting takes place 3-7 April in Mendoza, Argentina.
Ann Cairns | EurekAlert!
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