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Authors: Buttinelli, M.* 
De Rita, D.* 
Cremisini, C.* 
Cimarelli, C.* 
Title: Deep explosive focal depths during maar forming magmatic-hydrothermal eruption: Baccano Crater, Central Italy
Issue Date: 28-Apr-2011
Series/Report no.: 7/73(2011)
DOI: 10.1007/s00445-011-0466-z
Keywords: Hydrothermal eruptions
Explosion depth
Hydrothermal fluids
Baccano maar
Subject Classification05. General::05.02. Data dissemination::05.02.03. Volcanic eruptions 
Abstract: We describe the eruptive activity of the Pleistocene composite Baccano maar crater in the Sabatini Volcanic Complex (Central Italy) combining stratigraphy, grain size/componentry and rare earth element and Yttrium (REY) composition of its eruptive products with the stratigraphy and geothermal data derived from deep wells drilled on the Baccano structural high. The main lithological characteristics of the basal Baccano maar pyroclastic deposit, composed of more than 60% wt of non-thermometamorphosed lithic clasts from the sedimentary basement, show that the first eruption was magmatic-hydrothermal in nature. The lithology of the sedimentary lithic clasts indicates that the fragmentation level was at a depth of −1,000 to −1,200 m, with fragment depth verified by deep well stratigraphy. The 15% wt juvenile non-vesicular glass components suggest that magma played a minor role in powering the eruption. Assuming that the high-salinity hot hydrothermal fluids (365<T<410°C and P∼25 MPa), hosted in the highly permeable and confined aquifer below the Baccano maar are representative of those at the time of the eruption, we propose that hydrofracturing would have triggered the eruption caused by overpressure at the top of the geothermal aquifer. REY analysis performed on pyroclastic fragments and basement rocks suggest that partial dissolution of the deeper limestones (>−1,400 m) by the aggressive hydrothermal fluids enriched in acid components (HF, HCl, and H2SO4) may have contributed to increased CO2 partial pressure that helped to drive the hydrofracturing. This could have caused rapid vapour separation and pressure drop, allowing the almost simultaneous breaking of the aquifer cover and brecciation of the calcareous units down to −1,000 to −1,200 m depth. The relative abundance of calcareous lithics in the basal part of the first Baccano eruptive unit, representing about the upper 200 m of stratigraphy below the top of the Baccano structural high, reveals the descent of the piezometric surface during the eruption. Combining deep well information and maar product stratigraphy, using also REY data from maar pyroclastic fragments and the basement rocks we draw an interpretative model for the Baccano maar forming eruption, concluding that a) magmatic-hydrothermal eruptions may originate deeper than previously thought, and b) hydrothermal fluids circulating in limestone aquifers may play an important role in triggering such eruptions.
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