EGU General Assembly 2021
© Author(s) 2021. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Plinian eruption of the Middle Pleistocene Irind volcano, Armenia

Khachatur Meliksetian1, Hripsime Gevorgyan1,2, Ivan Savov3, Charles Connor4, Laura Connor4, Ralf Halama5, Ruben Jrbashyan1, Gevorg Navasardyan1, Edmond Grigoryan1, and Osamu Ishizuka6
Khachatur Meliksetian et al.
  • 1Institute of Geological Sciences of NAS of the Republic of Armenia 0019, Yerevan, 24a Marshal Baghramyan Ave,
  • 2Institute of Mineralogy, TU Bergakademie Freiberg, Brennhausgasse 14, 09599 Freiberg, Germany
  • 3Scholl of Earth and Enviroment, University of Leeds, LS12 2JP, UK
  • 4School of Geoscience, University of South Florida,4202 E. Fowler Avenue, NES 107,Tampa, FL 33620-555, USA
  • 5School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, University of Keele, Staffordshire, ST5 5BG, UK
  • 6Institute of Geology and Geoinformation, Geological Survey of Japan/AIST, Central 7, 1-1-1, Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305-8567, Japan

Large (VEI= 4-6) Quaternary explosive eruptions have repeatedly occurred in Armenia and the neighboring territories. Worth noting are the Plinian eruptions of Aragats stratovolcano (4096m), located in the vicinity of the Armenian capital city Yerevan (pop. >1 million) and producing lava flows variable in composition and size, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) and fallout deposits (Connor et al., 2011; Gevorgyan et al., 2020). The youngest lavas from Aragats are 0.52 million years (myr) old and the youngest ignimbrites are 0.65 myr old. (Connor et al., 2011, Gevorgyan et al., 2020).

Here we present some features of a violent explosive Plinian eruption (VEI=4) from the relatively small, subsidiary Irind vent on the slopes of Aragats stratovolcano. We report results from newly mapped thick pumice fall deposits and pumice-rich welded lapilli-tuff and vitrophyres. Formation of up to ~10 m thick pumice fall deposits is related to a sustained Plinian eruption, while the formation of overlaying pumice tuffs (age= 0.490±0.028 M.yrs, Connor et al., 2011) and vitrophyre cover is interpreted as result of collapse of the eruption column due to a decrease of the magma supply.

Following the pyroclastic eruption, a voluminous (2.9-3.6 km3) effusive eruption of Irind created up to 120 m thick trachydacite lava flows that extended 18 km from the vent. Such long and thick lava flows are not typical for viscous felsic lavas. The Irind eruption products are characterized by a plagioclase-two pyroxene mineral association that is atypical for Aragats. The Irind magmas are trachydacitic  (SiO2= 66 wt; MgO= 0.7 wt%) with high- K2O contents (5.2 wt%) and enrichments in U, Th, LILE and LREE compared to Aragats. Geothermobarometry and hygrometry based on detailed textural analysis and mineral chemistry (Cpx, Opx, plagioclase, glass) reveals that Irind magmas also have elevated H2O, increased alkalinity and high T (~970 °C)- all features capable to generate magmas with much lower viscosity (4.2–4.5 log η Pa·s) in respect to typical dacites.

Our results support the view that often small eruptive vents (Irind) on the slopes of large coeval stratovolcanoes (Aragats) are not necessarily tapping their voluminous magma mushes underneath and are capable to deliver independent Plinian eruptions. We speculate that these are triggered by intrusions of hot, volatile-rich, alkaline felsic magmas, presumably emplaced fast, similar to the Chaiten eruption in 2008, and did not mix well with the otherwise dominant and older magmatic system under Aragats.


Connor C., Connor L., Halama, R., Meliksetian, K., Savov, I., 2011. Volcanic Hazard Assessment of the Armenia Nuclear Power Plant Site, Final Report, 278 pp.

Gevorgyan, H., Breitkreuz, C., Meliksetian, K, et al., 2020. Quaternary ring plain- and valley-confined pyroclastic deposits of Aragats stratovolcano (Lesser Caucasus): Lithofacies, geochronology and eruption history, JVGR 401, 1-22. 

How to cite: Meliksetian, K., Gevorgyan, H., Savov, I., Connor, C., Connor, L., Halama, R., Jrbashyan, R., Navasardyan, G., Grigoryan, E., and Ishizuka, O.: Plinian eruption of the Middle Pleistocene Irind volcano, Armenia, EGU General Assembly 2021, online, 19–30 Apr 2021, EGU21-14206,, 2021.

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