The Quaternary Campo de la Piedra Pomez ignimbrite (CPPI) is a superbly exposed, partially indurated, rhyolitic ignimbrite emplaced on the southern Puna of Argentina. It is characterized by a variety of facies that record in unprecedented detail the flow dynamics of the parent pyroclastic density currents (PDCs). Detailed facies analysis and internal architecture defined using a sequential stratigraphy approach reveal that CPPI was formed by sustained PDCs, generated from a low fountain eruptive style (boiling over). The PDCs had overall flow conditions characterized by high particle concentration and limited capability to surmount topographic obstacles. The mobility of the PDCs was largely controlled by high pore pressure and the continuous supply at the source (sustained forced convection-dominated PDCs). The successive forestepping-backstepping stacking patterns identified in the CPPI reflect a marked unsteadiness of its parent PDCs due to a pulsating discharge rate at the source. The lateral facies variations in the CPPI record the non-uniform character of its parent PDCs as they flowed outward from the base of the collapsing fountain. Proximal-medial areas characterized by steady aggradation rates pass through to distal braided thalwegs with highly variable aggradation rates, to frontal edges characterized by the step aggradations of secondary decoupled pumice-rich lobes. Collectively, the facies variations in the CPPI record the complex dynamics of sustained PDCs that include pulsating discharge rate at the source, progressive modification of the original topography, and lateral flow transformations.
Baez, W., de Silva, S., Chiodi, A., Bustos, E., Giordano, G., Arnosio, M., et al. (2020). Pulsating flow dynamics of sustained, forced pyroclastic density currents: insights from a facies analysis of the Campo de la Piedra Pómez ignimbrite, southern Puna, Argentina. BULLETIN OF VOLCANOLOGY, 82(7) [10.1007/s00445-020-01385-5].