Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology

Monte Cimino volcano

Geology References Web sites

Colli Albani

Distant view of the Colli Albani, one early morning in March 1992, from approximately west. The tallest peak in the center of the image is Monte Cavo (949 m), a late Pleistocene scoria cone sitting on the rim of the Faete caldera, the younger and smaller of the two calderas of the Colli Albani volcanic complex

Monte Cimino volcano, Latium, Italy

volcano number: none (older than Holocene in age)

summit elevation: 949 m

location: XX.XXN, XX.XXE




Monte Cimino, a Pleistocene lava dome complex near the town of Viterbo (north of Roma), seen from the village of Vitorchiano, 4 March 1994. This volcanic complex produced a voluminous ignimbrite sheet locally known as "Peperino", a very hard material well suitable for building.

Monte Cimino is the oldest of the volcanoes featured here, having been active from 1.35 to 0.8 Ma ago. Its activity was characterized by the uprise of felsic viscous rhyolitic to trachydacitic magmas along regional fissures leading to the formation of numerous lava domes. Growth of many of these domes was accompanied by violent explosive activity and probably, by collapse and avalanching from the domes, both of which generated glowing avalanches, such as to produce a vast ignimbrite plateau, or apron, around the Cimino dome complex.

All in all, more than 50 lava domes are still recognizable in the Cimino area, and many more are supposed to lie buried below younger domes and their pyroclastic flow aprons or have been annihilated by final explosions. The domes still present give the Cimino area its characteristic hilly morphology (well visible in the photo below).

During the final phase of Cimino activity much more fluid latite to olivine latite lavas were emitted from eruptive centers in the higher part of the complex, forming flows up to 10 km long, mainly to NW, N, and NE.

View from the northern outskirts of Viterbo over the city towards the volcanic complex of Monte Cimino, 5 March 1994. Part of the large edifice of the Vico caldera volcano is visible to the right.


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Web sites

The GPS network maintained by the Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia (INGV) at the Colli Albani (in Italian)

Some information (in English) on the seismicity and deformation of the Colli Albani, by the Rome section of the INGV

An Italian web site describing the lakes of the Latium region (many of them filling volcanic depressions such as explosion craters and calderas) has information and photos of Albano Lake and Lake Nemi

Copyright © Boris Behncke, "Italy's Volcanoes: The Cradle of Volcanology"

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