The Laacher See is a volcanic crater lake in Germany, with a diameter of 2 km (1.2 mi) in Rhineland-Palatinate area, approximately 24 km (15 mi) northwest of Koblenz and 37 km (23 mi) south of Bonn, and is closest to the town of Andernach situated 8 km (5.0 mi) to the east on the river Rhine.

According to the Volcano Discovery web page about the volcano, it last erupted about 12.9 thousand years ago, in an eruption larger in size than Mt. St. Helens 1980 eruption. It is believed to have erupted in a Plinian style. The website classifies the volcanic system as dormant, with emissions of $\ce{CO2}$ and seismicity recorded in the area.

However, the region of Germany that the Laacher See and the surrounding East Eifel mountains are not on a plate boundary.

What is the origin of the Laacher See caldera magma in Germany?


1 Answer 1


The East Eifel Volcanics, of which the Laacher See Caldera is a part of, is located on the Rhenish Shield and is associated with the Cenozoic Upper Rhine Graben continental rift zone (Aber, 2012).

Ukrich and Gabrielle (2013) hypothesise that as the region did have and still has active tectonics, that the magma chamber for the Laacher See Caldera could have been the result of magma accumulating in voids opened up through regional strike-slip faulting (including the 'Laacher See Strike Slip' and Ochtending Fault), block rotation and regional uplift.

According to Schmitt et al. (2010), the parental magmatic melt that formed the carbonatite-syenite suite based petrology that dominates the Laacher See caldera is derived from a mantle melt differentiated to phonolite.

It is believed that the magma resided/accumulated for around 20,000 years prior to the eruption. Schmitt et al. hypothesise that the magma had a cooler and older outer edge, compositionally zoning to a hotter phonolitic core - the presence of younger phenocrysts could indicate a magma reorganisation just prior to the eruption.


Aber, 2012, Volcanism of the Eifel, Germany Region, GO 326 Plate Tectonics course notes

Schmitt et al. 2010, Magmatic Longevity of Laacher See Volcano (Eifel, Germany) Indicated by U-Th Dating of Intrusive Carbonatites, Journal of Petrology

Ulrich and Gabrielle, 2013, Why does the Size of the Laacher See Magma Chamber and its Caldera Size not go together? - New Findings with regard to Active Tectonics in the East Eifel Volcanic Field, EGU General Assembly 2013


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.