Abstract

The city of Naples can be considered part of the Campi Flegrei volcanic field, and deposits within the urban area record many autochthonous pre- to post-caldera eruptions. Age measurements were carried out using 40Ar–39Ar dating techniques on samples from small monogenetic vents and more widely distributed tephra layers. The 40Ar–39Ar ages on feldspar phenocrysts yielded ages of c. 16 ka and 22 ka for events older than the Neapolitan Yellow Tuff caldera-forming eruption (15 ka), and ages of c. 40 ka, 53 ka and 78 ka for events older than the Campanian Ignimbrite caldera-forming eruption (39 ka). The oldest age obtained is 18 ka older than previous dates for pyroclastic deposits cropping out along the northern rim of Campi Flegrei. The results of this study allow us to divide the Campi Flegrei volcanic history into four main, geochronologically distinct eruptive cycles. A new period, the Paleoflegrei, occurred before 74–78 ka and has been proposed to better discriminate the ancient volcanism in the volcanic field. The eruptive history of Campi Flegrei extends possibly further back than this, but the products of previous eruptions are difficult to date owing to the lack of fresh juvenile clasts. These new geochronological data, together with recently published ages related to young volcanic edifices located in the city of Naples (Nisida volcano, 3.9 ka) testify to persistent activity over a period of at least 80 ka, with an average eruption recurrence interval of ~555 years within and adjacent to this densely populated city.

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