Recent volcanic history of Irazú volcano, Costa Rica: Alternation and mixing of two magma batches, and pervasive mixing

Guillermo E. Alvarado, Michael J. Carr, Brent D. Turrin, Carl C. Swisher, Hans Ulrich Schmincke, Kenneth W. Hudnut

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


40 Ar/ 39 Ar dates, fi eld observations, and geochemical data are reported for Irazú volcano, Costa Rica. Volcanism dates back to at least 854 ka, but has been episodic with lava shield construction peaks at ca. 570 ka and 136-0 ka. The recent volcanic record on Irazú volcano comprises lava fl ows and a variety of Strombolian and phreatomagmatic deposits, with a long-term trend toward more hydrovolcanic deposits. Banded scorias and hybridized rocks refl ect ubiquitous magma mixing and commingling. Two distinct magma batches have been identifi ed. One magma type or batch, Haya, includes basalt with higher high fi eld strength (HFS) and rare-earth element contents, suggesting a lower degree melt of a subduction modifi ed mantle source. The second batch, Sapper, has greater enrichment of large ion lithophile elements (LILE) relative to HFS elements and rare-earth elements, suggesting a higher subduction signature. The recent volcanic history at Irazú records two and one half sequences of the following pattern: eruptions of the Haya batch; eruptions of the Sapper batch; and fi nally, an unusually clear unconformity, indicating a pause in eruptions. In the last two sequences, strongly hybridized magma erupted after the eruption of the Haya batch. The continuing presence of two distinct magma batches requires two active magma chambers. The common occurrence of hybrids is evidence for a small, nearer to the surface chamber for mixing the two batches. Estimated pre-eruptive temperatures based on two-pyroxene geothermometry range from ̃1000-1176 °C in basalts to 922 °C in hornblende andesites. Crystallization occurred mainly between 4.6 and 3 kb as measured by different geobarometers. Hybridized rocks show intermediate pressures and temperatures. High silica magma occurs in very small volumes as banded scorias but not as lava fl ows. Although eruptions at Irazú are not often very explosive, the pervasiveness of magma mixing presents the danger of larger, more explosive hybrid eruptions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)259-276
Number of pages18
JournalSpecial Paper of the Geological Society of America
Issue number412
StatePublished - 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geology


  • Costa rica
  • Hazards
  • Irazú volcano
  • Magma batches
  • Magma mixing and commingling
  • Recent stratigraphy


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