Abstract

The largest explosive eruption (volcanic explosivity index of 6) in historical times in the Andes took place in a.d. 1600 at Huaynaputina volcano in southern Peru. According to chronicles, the eruption began on February 19 with a Plinian phase and lasted until March 6. Repeated tephra falls, pyroclastic flows, and surges devastated an area 70 × 40 km2 west of the vent and affected all of southern Peru, and earthquakes shook the city of Arequipa 75 km away. Eight deposits, totaling 10.2–13.1 km3 in bulk volume, are attributed to this eruption: (1) a widespread, ∼8.1 km3 pumice-fall deposit; (2) channeled ignimbrites (1.6–2 km3) with (3) ground-surge and ash-cloud-surge deposits; (4) widespread co-ignimbrite ash layers; (5) base-surge deposits; (6) unconfined ash-flow deposits; (7) crystal-rich deposits; and (8) late ash-fall and surge deposits. Disruption of a hydrothermal system and hydromagmatic interactions are thought to have fueled the large-volume explosive eruption. Although the event triggered no caldera collapse, ring fractures that cut the vent area point to the onset of a funnel-type caldera collapse.

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