Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to integrate, or even modify where necessary, the geovolcanological setting outlined by other authors on the history of the small volcanic field of San Venanzo (Umbria, Central Italy). To attain this goal, new accurate field investigations were carried out in that area, coupled with detailed stratigraphic studies and laboratory analyses, to support field evidence with experimental results. The first objective was to stress the importance of a groundwater reservoir whose interaction with magma at various degrees was responsible not only for the explosive character of volcanism in that area, but also for the complex morphology of the volcanic deposits that are widely scattered on the underlying sedimentary basement. Another objective was to clarify the role played by tectonic activity in enhancing the fast and discontinuous ascent of batches of magma from the mantle to the surface, through two different sets of faults, opened by tectonic unrest into the crust, that were also responsible for the morphology and spatial distribution of volcanic centres. This was considered to be very important in consideration of the still-active stress field of the region. Finally, special attention was focused on the presence of a palaeosol between two eruptive sequences, as it most likely denoted a split in the volcanic activity of this site into two separate phases. This observation leads to the conclusion that, in spite of its eruptive characteristics, the small volcano of San Venanzo is not monogenic. For all of these topics, a number of conclusions have been drawn and they are reported with more data in the following sections of this paper.

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