Supereruptions are the largest explosive volcanic eruptions on Earth. They generate catastrophic, widespread ash-fall blankets and voluminous ignimbrites, with accompanying caldera collapse. However, the mechanisms of generation, storage and evacuation of the parental silicic magma bodies remain controversial. In this Review, we synthesize field, laboratory and petrological evidence from 13 Quaternary supereruptions to illustrate the range of diversity in these phenomena. Supereruptions can start mildly over weeks to months before escalating into climactic activity, or go into vigorous activity immediately. Individual supereruptions can occupy periods of days to weeks, or be prolonged over decades. The magmatic sources vary from single bodies of magma to multiple magma bodies that are simultaneously or sequentially tapped. In all 13 cases, the crystal-rich (>50–60% crystals), deep roots (>10 km) of the magmatic systems had lifetimes of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of years or more. In contrast, the erupted magmas were assembled at shallower depths (4–10 km) on shorter timescales, sometimes within centuries. Geological knowledge of past events, combined with modern geophysical techniques, demonstrate how large silicic caldera volcanoes (that have had past supereruptions) operate today. Future research is particularly needed to better constrain the processes behind modern volcanic unrest and the signals that might herald an impending volcanic eruption, regardless of size.
Field studies demonstrate that supereruptions show great diversity in their style, rapidity of onset, duration of eruption, triggering mechanisms for eruption onset and caldera collapse.
The magma reservoirs from which supereruptions are sourced are comparably diverse, with examples of both single and multiple bodies, each of which can be compositionally zoned or convectively mixed.
Past supereruptions serve to define a supervolcano, but this arbitrary term does not constrain the modern or future behaviour of that particular volcano.
Geophysical imaging of magma storage regions at modern, large silicic volcanoes (including supervolcanoes) is broadly consistent with petrological inferences, but imaging resolution is insufficient to identify small, melt-dominant bodies capable of supplying eruptions.
Large silicic volcanoes often undergo periods of unrest, consisting of elevated seismicity, ground deformation and gas emissions. Monitoring of these systems must contend with the challenge of differentiating ‘normal’ unrest from pre-eruptive signals.
Further work is needed to better understand the processes that cause these long-lived magmatic systems to accumulate eruptible magma bodies and the subsequent tipping points that cause these to erupt.
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $4.92 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Rent or Buy article
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Mason, B. G., Pyle, D. M. & Oppenheimer, C. The size and frequency of the largest explosive eruptions on Earth. Bull. Volcanol. 66, 735–748 (2004).
Sparks, R. et al. Super-Eruptions: Global Effects and Future Threats. Report of a Geological Society of London Working Group 1–24 (The Geological Society, 2005).
Self, S. The effects and consequences of very large explosive volcanic eruptions. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 364, 2073–2097 (2006).
Wark, D. A. & Miller, C. F. (eds) Supervolcanoes. Elements 4, 11–49 (2008). For the non-specialist, still the single most useful collation of information about supersized eruptions and their source volcanoes.
Lundstrom, C. C. & Glazner, A. F. (eds) Enigmatic relationship between silicic volcanic and plutonic rocks. Elements 12, 91–127.
Smith, R. L. Ash-flow magmatism. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 180, 5–27 (1979).
Hildreth, W. Gradients in silicic magma chambers: implications for lithospheric magmatism. J. Geophys. Res. 86, 10153–10192 (1981). A classic comprehensive overview and synthesis of the nature of many types of magmatic systems (including supersized examples) that acted as a springboard for many subsequent studies.
Annen, C., Blundy, J. D. & Sparks, R. S. J. The genesis of intermediate and silicic magmas in deep crustal hot zones. J. Petrol. 47, 505–539 (2006).
Annen, C. From plutons to magma chambers: thermal constraints on the accumulation of eruptible silicic magma in the upper crust. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 284, 409–416 (2009).
Bachmann, O. & Huber, C. Silicic magma reservoirs in the Earth’s crust. Am. Mineral. 101, 2377–2404 (2016).
Cashman, K. V., Sparks, R. S. J. & Blundy, J. D. Vertically extensive and unstable magmatic systems: a unified view of igneous processes. Science 355, eaag3055 (2017).
Sparks, R. S. J. et al. Formation and dynamics of magma reservoirs. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 377, 2018.0019 (2019).
Gregg, P. M., de Silva, S. L., Grosfils, E. B. & Parmigiani, J. P. Catastrophic caldera-forming eruptions: thermomechanics and implications for eruption triggering and maximum caldera dimensions on Earth. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 241–242, 1–12 (2012).
Degruyter, W. & Huber, C. A model for eruption frequency of upper crustal silicic magma chambers. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 403, 117–130 (2014).
Karakas, O., Degruyter, W., Bachmann, O. & Dufek, J. Lifetime and size of shallow magma bodies controlled by crustal-scale magmatism. Nat. Geosci. 10, 446–450 (2017).
Cabaniss, H. E., Gregg, P. M. & Grosfils, E. B. The role of tectonic stress in triggering large silicic caldera eruptions. Geophys. Res. Lett. 45, 3889–3895 (2018).
Townsend, M. & Huber, C. A critical magma chamber size for volcanic eruptions. Geology 48, 431–435 (2020).
Christiansen, R. L. The Quaternary and Pliocene Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field of Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. U.S. Geol. Surv. Prof. Pap. 729-G, 1–143 (2001).
Barker, S. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Allan, A. S. R. & Schipper, C. I. Fine-scale temporal recovery, reconstruction and evolution of a post-supereruption magmatic system: Taupo (New Zealand). Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 170, 5 (2015).
Hildreth, W., Fierstein, J. & Calvert, A. Early post-caldera rhyolite and structural resurgence at Long Valley caldera, California. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 335, 1–34 (2017).
Troch, J. et al. Rhyolite generation prior to a Yellowstone supereruption: insights from the Island Park–Mount Jackson Rhyolite series. J. Petrol. 58, 29–52 (2017).
Hildreth, W. Volcanological perspectives on Long Valley, Mammoth Mountain, and Mono Craters: several contiguous but discrete systems. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 136, 169–198 (2004).
Chesner, C. A. The Toba caldera complex. Quat. Int. 258, 5–18 (2012).
Hildreth, W. & Wilson, C. J. N. Compositional zoning of the Bishop Tuff. J. Petrol. 48, 951–999 (2007).
Allan, A. S. R. et al. A cascade of magmatic events during the assembly and eruption of a super-sized magma body. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 172, 49 (2017). A comprehensive linking of physical volcanology with magmatic processes inferred from petrological data and magmatic timescales from multiple mineral phases to document the evolution of a supereruptive system.
Swallow, E. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Charlier, B. L. A. & Gamble, J. A. The Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, Yellowstone: evacuation of multiple magma systems in a complex episodic eruption. J. Petrol. 60, 1371–1426 (2019).
Boro, J. R., Wolff, J. A. & Neill, O. K. Anatomy of a recharge magma: hornblende dacite pumice from the rhyolitic Tshirege Member of the Bandelier Tuff, Valles caldera, New Mexico, USA. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 175, 96 (2020).
Kaneko, K., Kamata, H., Koyaguchi, T., Yoshikawa, M. & Furukawa, K. Repeated large-scale eruptions from a single compositionally stratified magma chamber: an example from Aso volcano, Southwest Japan. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 167, 160–180 (2007).
de Silva, S. L. & Gosnold, W. A. Episodic construction of batholiths: insights from the spatiotemporal development of an ignimbrite flare-up. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 167, 320–335 (2007).
Barker, S. J. et al. What lies beneath? Reconstructing the primitive magmas fueling voluminous silicic volcanism using olivine-hosted melt inclusions. Geology 48, 504–508 (2020).
Gelman, S. E., Deering, C. D., Bachmann, O., Huber, C. & Gutiérrez, F. J. Identifying the crystal graveyards remaining after large silicic eruptions. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 403, 299–306 (2014).
Bachmann, O. & Bergantz, G. W. On the origin of crystal-poor rhyolites: extracted from batholithic crystal mushes. J. Petrol. 45, 1565–1582 (2004). This paper marked a paradigm shift in how we view magmatic systems, providing an integrated model of mush zones and the evolution of the plutonic and volcanic components of the system.
Bachmann, O. & Bergantz, G. W. Rhyolites and their source mushes across tectonic settings. J. Petrol. 49, 2277–2285 (2008).
Wilson, C. J. N. Supereruptions and supervolcanoes: processes and products. Elements 4, 29–34 (2008).
Walker, G. P. L. Crystal concentration in ignimbrites. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 36, 135–146 (1972).
Hildreth, W. & Mahood, G. A. Ring-fracture eruption of the Bishop Tuff. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 97, 396–403 (1986). Details a unique circumstance by which lithic clasts within a deposit are used to reconstruct the development of an iconic caldera-forming eruption.
Izett, G. A. & Wilcox, R. E. Map showing localities and inferred distributions of the Huckleberry Ridge, Mesa Falls, and Lava Creek ash beds (Pearlette family ash beds) of Pliocene and Pleistocene age in the western United States and southern Canada. U.S. Geol. Surv. Misc. Investig. Ser. Map I-1325 https://doi.org/10.3133/i1325 (1982).
Rose, W. I. & Chesner, C. A. Dispersal of ash in the great Toba eruption, 75 ka. Geology 15, 913–917 (1987).
Cisneros de León, A. et al. A history of violence: magma incubation, timing and tephra distribution of the Los Chocoyos supereruption (Atitlán Caldera, Guatemala). J. Quat. Sci. 36, 169–179 (2021).
Nash, B. P., Perkins, M. E., Christensen, J. N., Lee, D. C. & Halliday, A. N. The Yellowstone hotspot in space and time: Nd and Hf isotopes in silicic magmas. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 247, 143–156 (2006).
Nash, B. P. & Perkins, M. E. Neogene fallout tuffs from the Yellowstone hotspot in the Columbia Plateau region, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, USA. PLoS One 7, e44205 (2012).
Matthews, N. E. et al. Ultra-distal tephra deposits from super-eruptions: examples from Toba, Indonesia and Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Quat. Int. 258, 54–79 (2012).
Pearce, N. J. G., Westgate, J. A., Gualda, G. A. R., Gatti, E. & Muhammad, R. F. Tephra glass chemistry provides storage and discharge details of five magma reservoirs which fed the 75 ka Youngest Toba Tuff eruption, northern Sumatra. J. Quat. Sci. 35, 256–271 (2020).
Cooper, G. F., Wilson, C. J. N., Millet, M.-A., Baker, J. & Smith, E. G. C. Systematic tapping of independent magma chambers during the 1 Ma Kidnappers supereruption. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 213–214, 23–33 (2012).
Carey, S. & Sigurdsson, H. The intensity of plinian eruptions. Bull. Volcanol. 51, 28–40 (1989).
Ninkovich, D., Sparks, R. S. J. & Ledbetter, M. T. The exceptional magnitude and intensity of the Toba eruption, Sumatra: an example of the use of deep-sea tephra layers as a geological tool. Bull. Volcanol. 41, 286–298 (1978).
Ledbetter, M. T. & Sparks, R. S. J. Duration of large-magnitude explosive eruptions deduced from graded bedding in deep-sea ash layers. Geology 7, 240–244 (1979).
Sparks, R. S. J. et al. Volcanic Plumes (Wiley, 1997).
Baines, P. G. & Sparks, R. S. J. Dynamics of giant volcanic ash clouds from supervolcanic eruptions. Geophys. Res. Lett. 32, L24808 (2005).
Costa, A., Suzuki, Y. J. & Koyaguchi, T. Understanding the plume dynamics of explosive super-eruptions. Nat. Comm. 9, 654 (2018).
Wilson, C. J. N. & Hildreth, W. The Bishop Tuff: new insights from eruptive stratigraphy. J. Geol. 105, 407–439 (1997).
Sheridan, M. F. & Wang, Y. Cooling and welding history of the Bishop Tuff in Adobe Valley and Chidago Canyon, California. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 142, 119–144 (2005).
Wilson, C. J. N. & Hildreth, W. Assembling an ignimbrite: mechanical and thermal building blocks in the Bishop Tuff, California. J. Geol. 111, 653–670 (2003).
Brown, S. J. A., Wilson, C. J. N., Cole, J. W. & Wooden, J. The Whakamaru group ignimbrites, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand: evidence for reverse tapping of a zoned silicic magmatic system. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 84, 1–37 (1998).
Cooper, G. F. & Wilson, C. J. N. Development, mobilisation and eruption of a large crystal-rich rhyolite: the Ongatiti ignimbrite, New Zealand. Lithos 198–199, 38–57 (2014).
Cas, R. A. F. et al. The flow dynamics of an extremely large volume pyroclastic flow, the 2.08-Ma Cerro Galán Ignimbrite, NW Argentina, and comparison with other flow types. Bull. Volcanol. 73, 1583–1609 (2011).
Wilson, C. J. N. The 26.5 ka Oruanui eruption, New Zealand: an introduction and overview. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 112, 133–174 (2001).
Self, S., Goff, F., Gardner, J. N., Wright, J. V. & Kite, W. M. Explosive rhyolitic volcanism in the Jemez Mountains: vent locations, caldera development and relation to regional structure. J. Geophys. Res. 91, 1779–1798 (1986).
Swallow, E. J. et al. Evacuation of multiple magma bodies and the onset of caldera collapse in a supereruption, captured in glass and mineral compositions. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 173, 33 (2018).
Myers, M. L., Wallace, P. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Morter, B. K. & Swallow, E. J. Prolonged ascent and episodic venting of discrete magma batches at the onset of the Huckleberry Ridge supereruption, Yellowstone. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 451, 285–297 (2016).
Wilson, C. J. N. & Charlier, B. L. A. Rapid rates of magma generation at contemporaneous magma systems, Taupo volcano, New Zealand: insights from U–Th model-age spectra in zircons. J. Petrol. 50, 875–907 (2009).
Wilson, C. J. N., Stelten, M. E. & Lowenstern, J. B. Contrasting perspectives on the Lava Creek Tuff eruption, Yellowstone, from new U–Pb and 40Ar/39Ar age determinations. Bull. Volcanol. 80, 53 (2018).
Mucek, A. E. et al. Post-supereruption recovery at Toba caldera. Nat. Comm. 8, 15248 (2017).
Cooper, G. F., Morgan, D. J. & Wilson, C. J. N. Rapid assembly and rejuvenation of a large silicic magmatic system: insights from mineral diffusive profiles in the Kidnappers and Rocky Hill deposits, New Zealand. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 473, 1–13 (2017).
Girard, G. & Stix, J. Magma recharge and crystal mush rejuvenation associated with early post-collapse Upper Basin Member rhyolites, Yellowstone caldera, Wyoming. J. Petrol. 50, 2095–2125 (2009).
Till, C. B., Vazquez, J. A., Stelten, M. E., Shamloo, H. I. & Shaffer, J. S. Coexisting discrete bodies of rhyolite and punctuated volcanism characterize Yellowstone’s post-Lava Creek Tuff caldera evolution. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 20, 3861–3881 (2019).
Troch, J., Ellis, B. S., Harris, C., Ulmer, P. & Bachmann, O. The effect of prior hydrothermal alteration on the melting behaviour during rhyolite formation in Yellowstone, and its importance in the generation of low-δ18O magmas. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 481, 338–349 (2018).
Cook, G. W., Wolff, J. A. & Self, S. Estimating the eruptive volume of a large pyroclastic body: the Otowi Member of the Bandelier Tuff, Valles caldera, New Mexico. Bull. Volcanol. 78, 10 (2016).
Wilson, C. J. N., Gravley, D. M., Leonard, G. S. & Rowland, J. V. Volcanism in the central Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand: tempo, styles and controls. Spec. Publ. IAVCEI 2, 225–247 (2009).
Downs, D. T. et al. Age and eruptive center of the Paeroa subgroup ignimbrites (Whakamaru Group) within the Taupo Volcanic Zone of New Zealand. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 126, 1131–1144 (2014).
Forni, F., Degruyter, W., Bachmann, O., De Astis, G. & Mollo, S. Long-term magmatic evolution reveals the beginning of a new caldera cycle at Campi Flegrei. Sci. Adv. 4, eaat9401 (2018).
Townsend, M., Degruyter, W., Huber, C. & Bachmann, O. Magma chamber growth during intercaldera periods: insights from thermo-mechanical modeling with applications to Laguna del Maule, Campi Flegrei, Santorini, and Aso. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 20, 1574–1591 (2019).
Riley, P., Tikoff, B. & Hildreth, W. Transtensional deformation and structural control of contiguous but independent magmatic systems: Mono-Inyo Craters, Mammoth Mountain, and Long Valley caldera, California. Geosphere 8, 740–751 (2012).
Allan, A. S. R., Wilson, C. J. N., Millet, M.-A. & Wysoczanski, R. J. The invisible hand: tectonic triggering and modulation of a rhyolitic supereruption. Geology 40, 563–566 (2012).
Hildreth, W. & Michael, P. J. Comment and reply on ‘Chemical differentiation of the Bishop Tuff and other high-silica magmas through crystallization processes’. Geology 11, 622–624 (1983).
Bachmann, O. & Bergantz, G. W. Gas percolation in upper-crustal silicic mushes as a mechanism for upward heat advection and rejuvenation of near-solidus magma bodies. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 149, 85–102 (2006).
Huber, C., Bachmann, O. & Dufek, J. Thermo-mechanical reactivation of locked crystal mushes: melting-induced internal fracturing and assimilation processes in magmas. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 304, 443–454 (2011).
Parmigiani, A., Huber, C. & Bachmann, O. Mush microphysics and the reactivation of crystal-rich magma reservoirs. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 119, 6308–6322 (2014).
Wolff, J. A. et al. Remelting of cumulates as a process for producing chemical zoning in silicic tuffs: a comparison of cool, wet and hot, dry rhyolitic magma systems. Lithos 236–237, 275–286 (2015).
Streck, M. L. Evaluation of crystal mush extraction models to explain crystal-poor rhyolites. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 284, 79–94 (2014).
Wolff, J. A., Forni, F., Ellis, B. S. & Szymanowski, D. Europium and barium enrichments in compositionally zoned felsic tuffs: a smoking gun for the origin of chemical and physical gradients by cumulate melting. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 540, 116251 (2020).
Cashman, K. V. & Giordano, G. Calderas and magma reservoirs. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 288, 28–45 (2014). Summarizes and synthesizes many of the key concepts in our views of magmatic systems below caldera volcanoes.
Lipman, P. W. Subsidence of ash-flow calderas: relation to caldera size and magma-chamber geometry. Bull. Volcanol. 59, 198–218 (1997).
Lipman, P. W. & McIntosh, W. C. Eruptive and noneruptive calderas, northeastern San Juan Mountains, Colorado: where did the ignimbrites come from? Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 120, 771–795 (2008).
Gravley, D. M., Wilson, C. J. N., Leonard, G. S. & Cole, J. W. Double trouble: paired ignimbrite eruptions and collateral subsidence in the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 119, 18–30 (2007).
Putirka, K. D. & Tepley, F. J. III (eds) Minerals, inclusions and volcanic rocks. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 69, 1–674 (2008).
Gualda, G. A. R., Ghiorso, M. S., Lemons, R. V. & Carley, T. L. Rhyolite-MELTS: a modified calibration of MELTS optimized for silica-rich, fluid-bearing magmatic systems. J. Petrol. 53, 875–890 (2012).
Wilke, S., Holtz, F., Neave, D. A. & Almeev, R. The effect of anorthite content and water on quartz–feldspar cotectic compositions in the rhyolitic system and implications for geobarometry. J. Petrol. 58, 789–819 (2017).
Huang, H.-H. et al. The Yellowstone magmatic system from the mantle plume to the upper crust. Science 348, 773–776 (2015). Using tomographic techniques, this paper presented the new discovery at Yellowstone (but now recognized at other centres globally) of the lower-crustal basaltic magma reservoir in addition to the previously known upper-crustal magma reservoir.
Jaxybulatov, K. et al. A large magmatic sill complex beneath the Toba caldera. Science 346, 617–619 (2014).
Quick, J. E. et al. Magmatic plumbing of a large Permian caldera exposed to a depth of 25 km. Geology 37, 603–606 (2009).
Otamendi, J. E., Ducea, M. N. & Bergantz, G. W. Geological, petrological and geochemical evidence for progressive construction of an arc crustal section, Sierra de Valle Fertil, Famatinian Arc, Argentina. J. Petrol. 53, 761–800 (2012).
Klein, B. Z. & Jagoutz, O. Construction of a trans-crustal magma system: building the Bear Valley Intrusive Suite, southern Sierra Nevada, California. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 553, 116624 (2021).
Hildreth, W. & Moorbath, S. Crustal contributions to arc magmatism in the Andes of central Chile. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 98, 455–489 (1988).
Rowe, M. C. et al. Development of a continental volcanic field: petrogenesis of pre-caldera intermediate and silicic rocks and origin of the Bandelier magmas, Jemez Mountains (New Mexico, USA). J. Petrol. 48, 2063–2091 (2007).
Wright, H. M. N., Folkes, C. B., Cas, R. A. F. & Cashman, K. V. Heterogeneous pumice populations in the 2.08-Ma Cerro Galán ignimbrite: implications for magma recharge and ascent preceding a large-volume silicic eruption. Bull. Volcanol. 73, 1513–1533 (2011).
Cooper, G. F., Wilson, C. J. N., Millet, M.-A. & Baker, J. A. Generation and rejuvenation of a supervolcanic magmatic system: a case study from Mangakino volcanic centre, New Zealand. J. Petrol. 57, 1135–1170 (2016).
Barker, S. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Morgan, D. J. & Rowland, J. V. Rapid priming, accumulation and recharge of magma driving recent eruptions at a hyperactive caldera volcano. Geology 44, 323–326 (2016).
Goff, F., Warren, R. G., Goff, C. J. & Dunbar, N. Eruption of reverse-zoned upper Tshirege Member, Bandelier Tuff from centralized vents within Valles caldera, New Mexico. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 276, 82–104 (2014).
Matthews, N. E., Huber, C., Pyle, D. M. & Smith, V. C. Timescales of magma recharge and reactivation of large silicic systems from Ti diffusion in quartz. J. Petrol. 53, 1385–1416 (2012).
Shamloo, H. I. & Till, C. B. Decadal transition from quiescence to supereruption: petrologic investigation of the Lava Creek Tuff, Yellowstone Caldera, WY. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 174, 32 (2019).
Wotzlaw, J.-F., Bindeman, I. N., Stern, R. A., D’Abzac, F.-X. & Schaltegger, U. Rapid heterogeneous assembly of multiple magma reservoirs prior to Yellowstone supereruptions. Sci. Rep. 5, 14026 (2015).
Charlier, B. L. A., Wilson, C. J. N. & Davidson, J. P. Rapid open-system assembly of a large silicic magma body: time-resolved evidence from cored plagioclase crystals in the Oruanui eruption deposits, New Zealand. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 156, 799–813 (2008).
Wolff, J. A. & Ramos, F. C. Processes in caldera-forming high-silica rhyolite magma: Rb–Sr and Pb isotope systematics of the Otowi Member of the Bandelier Tuff, Valles Caldera, New Mexico, USA. J. Petrol. 55, 345–375 (2014).
Chamberlain, K. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Wallace, P. J. & Millet, M.-A. Micro-analytical perspectives on the Bishop Tuff and its magma chamber. J. Petrol. 56, 605–640 (2015).
Chamberlain, K. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Wooden, J. L., Charlier, B. L. A. & Ireland, T. R. New perspectives on the Bishop Tuff from zircon textures, ages and trace elements. J. Petrol. 55, 395–426 (2014).
Cooper, K. M. Time scales and temperatures of crystal storage in magma reservoirs: implications for magma reservoir dynamics. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 377, 20180009 (2019).
Cooper, K. M. & Kent, A. J. R. Rapid remobilization of magmatic crystals kept in cold storage. Nature 506, 480–483 (2014).
Barboni, M. et al. Warm storage for arc magmas. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 113, 13959–13964 (2016).
Marsh, B. D. On the crystallinity, probability of occurrence, and rheology of lava and magma. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 78, 85–98 (1981).
Bai, T. et al. Teleseismic tomography of the Laguna del Maule volcanic field in Chile. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 125, e2020JB019449 (2020).
Tierney, C. R., Reid, M. R., Vazquez, J. A. & Chesner, C. A. Diverse late-stage crystallization and storage conditions in melt domains from the Youngest Toba Tuff revealed by age and compositional heterogeneity in the last increment of accessory phase growth. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 174, 31 (2019).
Wallace, P. J., Anderson, A. T. & Davis, A. M. Gradients in H2O, CO2, and exsolved gas in a large-volume silicic magma system: interpreting the record preserved in melt inclusions from the Bishop Tuff. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 20097–20122 (1999).
Myers, M. L., Wallace, P. J. & Wilson, C. J. N. Inferring magma ascent times and reconstructing conduit processes in rhyolitic explosive eruptions using diffusive losses of hydrogen from melt inclusions. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 369, 95–112 (2019).
Gualda, G. A. R. et al. Timescales of quartz crystallization and the longevity of the Bishop giant magma body. PLoS One 7, e37492 (2012).
Roberge, J., Wallace, P. J. & Kent, A. J. R. Magmatic processes in the Bishop Tuff rhyolitic magma based on trace elements in melt inclusions and pumice matrix glass. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 165, 237–257 (2013).
Flaherty, T. et al. Multiple timescale constraints for high-flux magma chamber assembly prior to the Late Bronze Age eruption of Santorini (Greece). Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 173, 75 (2018).
Tramontano, S., Gualda, G. A. R. & Ghiorso, M. S. Internal triggering of volcanic eruptions: tracking overpressure regimes for giant magma bodies. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 472, 142–151 (2017).
Kennedy, B. M. et al. Magma plumbing beneath collapse caldera volcanic systems. Earth-Sci. Rev. 177, 404–424 (2018).
Black, B. A. & Andrews, B. J. Petrologic imaging of the architecture of magma reservoirs feeding caldera-forming eruptions. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett. 552, 116572 (2020).
Vazquez, J. A. & Reid, M. R. Probing the accumulation history of the voluminous Toba magma. Science 305, 991–994 (2004).
Matthews, N. E. et al. Quartz zoning and the pre-eruptive evolution of the ~340-ka Whakamaru magma systems, New Zealand. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 163, 87–107 (2012).
Engi, M. Petrochronology based on REE-minerals: monazite, allanite, xenotime, apatite. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 83, 365–418 (2017).
Kohn, M. J. Titanite petrochronology. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 83, 419–441 (2017).
Schaltegger, U., Schmitt, A. K. & Horstwood, M. S. A. U–Th–Pb zircon geochronology by ID-TIMS, SIMS, and laser ablation ICP-MS: recipes, interpretations, and opportunities. Chem. Geol. 402, 89–110 (2015).
Miller, J. S., Matzel, J. E. P., Miller, C. F., Burgess, S. D. & Miller, R. B. Zircon growth and recycling during the assembly of large, composite arc plutons. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 167, 282–299 (2007).
Frazer, R. E., Coleman, D. S. & Mills, R. D. Zircon U-Pb geochronology of the Mount Givens Granodiorite: Implications for the genesis of large volumes of eruptible magma. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 119, 2907–2924 (2014).
Cooper, G. F., Wilson, C. J. N., Charlier, B. L. A., Wooden, J. L. & Ireland, T. R. Temporal evolution and compositional signatures of two supervolcanic systems recorded in zircons from Mangakino volcanic centre, New Zealand. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 167, 1018 (2014).
Rivera, T. A., Schmitz, M. D., Crowley, J. L. & Storey, M. Rapid magma evolution constrained by zircon petrochronology and 40Ar/39Ar sanidine ages for the Huckleberry Ridge Tuff, Yellowstone, USA. Geology 42, 643–646 (2014).
Charlier, B. L. A. et al. Magma generation at a large, hyperactive silicic volcano (Taupo, New Zealand) revealed by U–Th and U–Pb systematics in zircons. J. Petrol. 46, 3–32 (2005).
Folkes, C. B., de Silva, S. L., Schmitt, A. K. & Cas, R. A. F. A reconnaissance of U-Pb zircon ages in the Cerro Galán system, NW Argentina: prolonged magma residence, crystal recycling, and crustal assimilation. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 206, 136–147 (2011).
Reid, M. R. & Vazquez, J. A. Fitful and protracted magma assembly leading to a giant eruption, Youngest Toba Tuff, Indonesia. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 18, 156–177 (2017).
Reid, M. R. How long does it take to supersize an eruption? Elements 4, 23–28 (2008).
Chamberlain, K. J., Morgan, D. J. & Wilson, C. J. N. Timescales of mixing and mobilisation in the Bishop Tuff magma body: perspectives from diffusion chronometry. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 168, 1034 (2014).
Costa, F., Shea, T. & Ubide, T. Diffusion chronometry and the timescales of magmatic processes. Nat. Rev. Earth Environ. 1, 201–214 (2020).
Druitt, T. H., Costa, F., Deloule, E., Dungan, M. A. & Scaillet, B. Decadal to monthly timescales of magma transfer and reservoir growth at a caldera volcano. Nature 482, 77–80 (2012).
Hughes, G. R. & Mahood, G. A. Silicic calderas in arc settings: characteristics, distribution, and tectonic controls. Geol. Soc. Am. Bull. 123, 1577–1595 (2011).
Caricchi, L., Annen, C., Blundy, J., Simpson, G. & Pinel, V. Frequency and magnitude of volcanic eruptions controlled by magma injection and buoyancy. Nat. Geosci. 7, 126–130 (2014).
Koulakov, I. et al. The feeder system of the Toba supervolcano from the slab to the shallow reservoir. Nat. Comm. 7, 12228 (2016).
Rowland, J. V., Wilson, C. J. N. & Gravley, D. M. Spatial and temporal variations in magma-assisted rifting, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 190, 89–108 (2010).
Heath, B. A. et al. Tectonism and its relation to magmatism around Santorini volcano from upper crustal P wave velocity. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 124, 10610–10629 (2019).
Peterson, D. E. et al. Active normal faulting, diking, and doming above the rapidly inflating Laguna del Maule volcanic field, Chile, imaged with CHIRP, magnetic, and focal mechanism data. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 125, e2019JB019329 (2020).
Cole, J. W., Milner, D. M. & Spinks, K. D. Calderas and caldera structures: a review. Earth-Sci. Rev. 69, 1–26 (2005).
Rowland, J. V. & Sibson, R. H. Extensional fault kinematics within the Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand: soft-linked segmentation of a continental rift system. New Zealand J. Geol. Geophys. 44, 271–283 (2001).
Heise, W., Caldwell, T. G., Bibby, H. M. & Bennie, S. L. Three-dimensional electrical resistivity image of magma beneath an active continental rift, Taupo Volcanic Zone, New Zealand. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L10301 (2010).
Flinders, A. F. et al. Seismic evidence for significant melt beneath the Long Valley Caldera, California, USA. Geology 46, 799–802 (2018).
Hammond, J. O. S. & Kendall, J.-M. Constraints on melt distribution from seismology: a case study in Ethiopia. Geol. Soc. Lond. Spec. Publ. 420, 127–147 (2016).
Rasht-Behesht, M., Huber, C. & Mancinelli, N. J. Detectability of melt-rich lenses in magmatic reservoirs from teleseismic waveform modeling. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 125, e2020JB020264 (2020).
Lowenstern, J., Sisson, T. & Hurwitz, S. Probing magma reservoirs to improve volcano forecasts. Eos https://doi.org/10.1029/2017EO085189 (2017).
Lowenstern, J. B., Smith, R. B. & Hill, D. P. Monitoring super-volcanoes: geophysical and geochemical signals at Yellowstone and other large caldera systems. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 364, 2055–2072 (2006).
Lehman, J. A., Smith, R. B. & Schilly, M. M. Upper crustal structure of the Yellowstone caldera from seismic delay time analyses and gravity correlations. J. Geophys. Res. 87, 2713–2730 (1982).
Miller, D. S. & Smith, R. B. P and S velocity structure of the Yellowstone volcanic field from local earthquake and controlled source tomography. J. Geophys. Res. 104, 15105–15121 (1999).
Husen, S., Smith, R. B. & Waite, G. P. Evidence for gas and magmatic sources beneath the Yellowstone volcanic field from seismic tomographic imaging. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 131, 397–410 (2004).
Farrell, J., Smith, R. B., Husen, S. & Diehl, T. Tomography from 26 years of seismicity revealing that the spatial extent of the Yellowstone crustal magma reservoir extends well beyond the Yellowstone caldera. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 3068–3073 (2014).
Seats, K. J. & Lawrence, J. F. The seismic structure beneath the Yellowstone Volcano Field from ambient seismic noise. Geophys. Res. Lett. 41, 8277–8282 (2014).
Jiang, C., Schmandt, B., Farrell, J., Lin, F.-C. & Ward, K. M. Seismically anisotropic magma reservoirs underlying silicic calderas. Geology 46, 727–730 (2018).
Singer, B. S. et al. Geomorphic expression of rapid Holocene silicic magma reservoir growth beneath Laguna del Maule, Chile. Sci. Adv. 4, eaat1513 (2018).
Hata, M. et al. Three-dimensional electrical resistivity modeling to elucidate the crustal magma supply system beneath Aso caldera, Japan. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 123, 6334–6346 (2018).
Hill, D. P., Montgomery-Brown, E. K., Shelly, D. R., Flinders, A. F. & Prejean, S. Post-1978 tumescence at Long Valley caldera, California: a geophysical perspective. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 400, 106900 (2020).
Hildreth, W. Fluid-driven uplift at Long Valley, California: geologic perspectives. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 341, 269–286 (2017).
Prudencio, J. & Manga, M. 3-D seismic attenuation structure of Long Valley caldera: looking for melt bodies in the shallow crust. Geophys. J. Int. 220, 1677–1686 (2020).
Wilson, C. J. N. Stratigraphy, chronology, styles and dynamics of late Quaternary eruptions from Taupo volcano, New Zealand. Philos. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. A 343, 205–306 (1993).
Acocella, V., Di Lorenzo, R., Newhall, C. & Scandone, R. An overview of recent (1988 to 2014) caldera unrest: Knowledge and perspectives. Rev. Geophys. 53, 896–955 (2015). This paper provides an extensive review of global caldera unrest, both eruptive and non-eruptive, highlighting the diversity and complexity in the causes and signals of unrest.
Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. Volcano and earthquake monitoring plan for the Yellowstone Volcano Observatory, 2006–2015. U.S. Geol. Surv. Sci. Investig. Rep. 2006–5276, 1–13 (2006).
Waite, G. P. & Smith, R. B. Seismic evidence for fluid migration accompanying subsidence of the Yellowstone caldera. J. Geophys. Res. 107, 2177 (2002).
Farrell, J., Smith, R. B., Taira, T., Chang, W. L. & Puskas, C. M. Dynamics and rapid migration of the energetic 2008–2009 Yellowstone Lake earthquake swarm. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L19305 (2010).
Massin, F., Farrell, J. & Smith, R. B. Repeating earthquakes in the Yellowstone volcanic field: Implications for rupture dynamics, ground deformation, and migration in earthquake swarms. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 257, 159–173 (2013).
Pang, G. et al. The 2017–2018 Maple Creek earthquake sequence in Yellowstone National Park, USA. Geophys. Res. Lett. 46, 4653–4663 (2019).
Wicks, C., Thatcher, W., Dzurisin, D. & Svarc, J. Uplift, thermal unrest and magma intrusion at Yellowstone caldera. Nature 440, 72–75 (2006).
Wicks, C., Dzurisin, D., Lowenstern, J. B. & Svarc, J. Magma intrusion and volatile ascent beneath Norris Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park. J. Geophys. Res. Solid Earth 125, e2019JB018208 (2020).
Chang, W.-L., Smith, R. B., Farrell, J. & Puskas, C. M. An extraordinary episode of Yellowstone caldera uplift, 2004–2010, from GPS and InSAR observations. Geophys. Res. Lett. 37, L23302 (2010).
Langbein, J. O. Deformation of the Long Valley caldera, California: inferences from measurements from 1988 to 2001. J. Volcanol. Geotherm. Res. 127, 247–267 (2003).
Feng, L. & Newman, A. V. Constraints on continued episodic inflation at Long Valley caldera, based on seismic and geodetic observations. J. Geophys. Res. 114, B06403 (2009).
Tizzani, P. et al. Uplift and magma intrusion at Long Valley caldera from InSAR and gravity measurements. Geology 37, 63–66 (2009).
Johnston, D. et al. Social and economic consequences of historic caldera unrest at the Taupo volcano, New Zealand and the management of future episodes of unrest. Bull. New Zealand Soc. Earthq. Eng. 35, 215–230 (2002).
Otway, P. M., Blick, G. H. & Scott, B. J. Vertical deformation at Lake Taupo, New Zealand, from lake levelling surveys, 1979–99. New Zealand J. Geol. Geophys. 45, 121–132 (2002).
Illsley-Kemp, F. et al. Volcanic unrest at Taupo¯ volcano in 2019: causes, mechanisms and implications. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 22, e2021GC009803 (2021).
Bellucci, F., Woo, J., Kilburn, C. R. J. & Rolandi, G. Ground deformation at Campi Flegrei, Italy: implications for hazard assessment. Geol. Soc. Lond. Spec. Publ. 269, 141–157 (2006).
De Natale, G. et al. The Campi Flegrei caldera: unrest mechanisms and hazards. Geol. Soc. Lond. Spec. Publ. 269, 25–45 (2006).
Wilson, C. J. N. Volcanoes: characteristics, tipping points and those pesky unknown unknowns. Elements 13, 41–46 (2017).
Atwood, E. Cultural Super Volcano: a Cultural History of Yellowstone’s Hot Spot via Eco-Paranoia. Thesis, Montana State Univ., (2020).
Kong, Q. et al. Machine learning in seismology: turning data into insights. Seismol. Res. Lett. 90, 3–14 (2019).
Myers, M. L., Wallace, P. J., Wilson, C. J. N., Watkins, J. L. & Liu, Y. Ascent rates of rhyolitic magma at the onset of three caldera-forming eruptions. Am. Mineral. 103, 952–965 (2018).
Freitas, D., Manthilake, G. & Chantel, J. Simultaneous measurements of electrical conductivity and seismic wave velocity of partially molten geological materials: effect of evolving melt texture. Phys. Chem. Mineral. 46, 535–551 (2019).
Carcione, J. M., Farina, B., Poletto, F., Qadrouh, A. N. & Cheng, W. Seismic attenuation in partially molten rocks. Phys. Earth Planet. Int. 309, 106568 (2020).
Barberi, F., Corrado, G., Innocenti, F. & Luongo, G. Phlegraean Fields 1982–1984: brief chronicle of a volcano emergency in a densely populated area. Bull. Volcanol. 47, 175–185 (1984).
Maj, M. et al. Prevalence of psychiatric disorders among subjects exposed to a natural disaster. Acta Psychol. Scand. 79, 544–549 (1989).
Longo, M. L. How memory can reduce the vulnerability to disasters: the bradyseism of Pozzuoli in southern Italy. AIMS Geosci. 5, 631–644 (2019).
Chesner, C. A. Petrogenesis of the Toba Tuffs, Sumatra, Indonesia. J. Petrol. 39, 397–438 (1998).
Rose, W. I., Grant, N. K. & Easter, J. Geochemistry of the Los Chocoyos ash, Quezaltenango Valley, Guatemala. Geol. Soc. Am. Spec. Pap. 180, 87–99 (1979).
Takarada, S. & Hoshizumi, H. Distribution and eruptive volume of Aso-4 pyroclastic density current and tephra fall deposits, Japan: A M8 super-eruption. Front. Earth Sci. 8, 170 (2020).
Keller, F., Bachmann, O., Geshi, N. & Miyakawa, A. The role of crystal accumulation and cumulate remobilization in the formation of large zoned ignimbrites: insights from the Aso-4 caldera-forming eruption, Kyushu, Japan. Front. Earth Sci. 8, 614267 (2021).
Matthews, N. E., Vazquez, J. A. & Calvert, A. T. Age of the Lava Creek supereruption and magma chamber assembly at Yellowstone based on 40Ar/39Ar and U-Pb dating of sanidine and zircon crystals. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 16, 2508–2528 (2015).
Crowley, J. L., Schoene, B. & Bowring, S. A. U-Pb dating of zircon in the Bishop Tuff at the millennial scale. Geology 35, 1123–1126 (2007).
Jolles, J. S. R. & Lange, R. A. High-resolution Fe–Ti oxide thermometry applied to single-clast pumices from the Bishop Tuff: a re-examination of compositional variations in phenocryst phases with temperature. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol. 174, 70 (2019).
Wu, J. et al. Crustal evolution leading to successive rhyolitic supereruptions in the Jemez Mountains volcanic field, New Mexico, USA. Lithos 396–397, 106201 (2021).
Cherniak, D. J. & Watson, E. B. Pb diffusion in zircon. Chem. Geol. 172, 5–24 (2000).
Ireland, T. R. & Williams, I. S. Considerations in zircon geochronology by SIMS. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 53, 215–241 (2003).
Schmitt, A. K. & Vazquez, J. A. Secondary ionization mass spectrometry analysis in petrochronology. Rev. Mineral. Geochem. 83, 199–230 (2017).
Liu, Y. et al. Reappraisement and refinement of zircon U-Pb isotope and trace element analyses by LA-ICP-MS. Chin. Sci. Bull. 55, 1535–1546 (2010).
Chang, Z., Vervoort, J. D., McClelland, W. C. & Knaack, C. U-Pb dating of zircon by LA-ICP-MS. Geochem. Geophys. Geosyst. 7, Q05009 (2006).
C.J.N.W. has been supported by the Marsden Fund grant VUW0813 (Royal Society of New Zealand), a James Cook Fellowship (Royal Society of New Zealand) and the ECLIPSE Programme, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. G.F.C. is supported by a NERC Standard Grant (NE/T000317/1), M.L.M. is supported by an NSF CAREER grant (EAR 2042662) and S.J.B. acknowledges Marsden Fund grant VUW1627.
The authors declare no competing interests.
Peer review information
Nature Reviews Earth & Environment thanks J. Lindsay and O. Bachmann (who co-reviewed with F. Keller) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Events that discharge more than 1 × 1015 kg of magma (450 km3 or >~1,000 km3 of pumice and ash) in a single eruption.
A topographic depression formed through the collapse of the Earth’s surface, owing to the withdrawal of large volumes of magma from the upper crust.
A volcanic centre that has produced one (or more) supereruptions in the past, also referred to as a supereruptive centre.
A framework of crystals (>50–60 volume %) with interstitial melt, which forms a strong skeleton that can no longer easily flow or erupt, owing to its high viscosity.
Material separated out from the crystal mush, consisting of <40–50% crystals, that can flow and is eruptible, but which has a short lifetime within the upper crust.
- Magmatic systems
Entire regions within the crust and upper mantle that feed the volcanic system, including the melt-dominant body or bodies and mushy, non-eruptible material.
- Fall deposits
Deposited from high (tens of kilometres) buoyant atmospheric plumes of ash, dispersed by winds over thousands to millions of square kilometres; individual deposits are millimetres to metres in thickness.
Deposits from concentrated, ground-hugging pyroclastic flows, typically metres to hundreds of metres thick, covering up to thousands to tens of thousands of square kilometres.
- Juvenile material
Material that is newly discharged at the Earth’s surface in an eruption.
- Lithic material
Pre-existing (country) rocks caught up as fragments in the deposits of explosive eruptions.
Crystals grown in the mush that have been separated out from the melt in which they grew and, hence, can generate contrasting compositions of melt if reheated.
- Absolute age
An age determined by measurements of radioactive decay in minerals and associated with the time period since closure of the system.
- Relative age
An age that is determined, typically through measurements of diffusion profiles in minerals, relative to the point of quenching by eruption.
About this article
Cite this article
Wilson, C.J.N., Cooper, G.F., Chamberlain, K.J. et al. No single model for supersized eruptions and their magma bodies. Nat Rev Earth Environ 2, 610–627 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s43017-021-00191-7