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Volcanism in the Eifel region, Germany – Dead or Alive ?

Volcanism in the Eifel region, Germany – Dead or Alive ?



Apl. Prof. Dr. Joachim Ritter


The Quaternary volcanism in the Eifel volcanic fields, Germany, started about 700,000 years ago. Since then about 350 eruptions occurred the West and East Eifel volcanic fields (WEVF, EEVF), ranging from small-scale scoria cones and maars of different sizes, to large-scale paroxysmal eruptions. The last eruption was the Ulmener Maar explosion (WEVF) that left behind a ca. 340 m wide crater 10.900 years ago. 12.200 years ago the strong eruption of Laacher See volcano (VEI ~ VI) formed a 2 km wide caldera and the ashes were dispersed nearly all over Europe. The Laacher See volcano (LSV) was fed by a shallow phonolitic magma chamber at 5-8 km depth and erupted a total magma volume of about 6.7 km3 (for details see publications by Schmincke et al.).

Since no eruption occurred during the last 10.000 years, it was thought in the past that the volcanic fields are no longer active. However, there is still significant magma-related degassing and an interpretation of seismological models infers that there is about 4,000 km3 of melt in the upper mantle. A recent seismological study by a group of scientists on the local seismicity indicates a probable ongoing intrusion of magmatic fluids from the mantle into the crust underneath the LSV. I will summarize these findings and give an outlook.