Monte Nuevo -
The Newest Volcano in the Phlegrean Fields
Monte Nuovo is situated near the center of the area known as the Phlegrean
Fields. The cone was formed in less than a week during a violent eruption
that occurred in late September and early October 1538. Due to the
composition of the cone, it is known as a cinder cone (ash cone). Above is a panoramic photo, taken
from the top of the crater, that allows you to look down into the
mouth of this inactive volcano.
| The soft
walls of the crater are particularly susceptible to the eroding forces
of wind and water. This cone is quite young and has not yet solidified.
Notice how the water has carved deep gouges in the walls of the crater.
It is interesting to note that water does not accumulate in the crater.
One might expect that this crater would be full of water since there is
no obvious way for the water to exit. However, because the cone is comprised
of a loosely bound porous material and the lowest point is 14 meters above
sea level the water percolates down through the earth.
These smaller photos
graphically explain some of the processes that were involved in the formation
of Monte Nuovo.
stratification in the photo on the right was observed near the highest point
of the crater. It is a fine example of the lighter pumice riding atop of
the heavier basaltic materials in a pyroclastic flow (lava flow).
The lighter (both in color and density) material is pumice while the darker
material is basaltic in origin.
|| The photo
on the left shows a layer that has been formed by the fallout of basaltic
bombs and capilli. These igneous fragments range in size from 2 mm.
to as large as 2m in diameter. There may be larger bombs, however
I did not see any. This layer was formed during a brief period of
violent eruptions. It is the accumulation of semi-molten chunks of
lava that were ejected into the sky during the eruption.
| On the
left a basaltic lithic is lodged in the pumice strata.
Nuovo is particularly interesting because it was formed very recently (less
than 500 years ago). The first hand accounts of the bradisismic
uprising preceding the eruption combined with the observable physical evidence
provide many clues that can be used to better understand the volcanic activity
of the Phlegrean Fields.