Eruptive history of the Barombi Mbo Maar, Cameroon Volcanic Line, Central Africa: Constraints from volcanic facies analysis

Boris Tchamabé, Dieudonné Youmen 2 , Sébastien Owona 2 , Issa, Takeshi Ohba 1 , Károly Németh 5 , Moussa Ngapna 2 , Asobo Asaah 3 , Festus Aka 4 , Gregory Tanyileke 4 , and Joseph Hell 4
  • 1 Laboratory of Volcanology and Geochemistry, Department of Chemistry, Tokai University, 4-1-1 Kitakaname, Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, 259-1292, Japan
  • 2 Department of Earth Science, Faculty of Sciences, University of Douala, PO Box 24157, Douala-Cameroon, Cameroon
  • 3 Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Meguro-ku, 12-18, 2-12-1 Ookayama, Tokyo, 152-8551, Japan
  • 4 Institute of Mining and Geological Research (IRGM), PO Box 4110, Yaoundé, Cameroon
  • 5 CS-IAE, Volcanic Risk Solutions, Massey University, Private Bag 11222, Palmerston North, New Zealand


his study presents the first and detail field investigations of exposed deposits at proximal sections of the Barombi Mbo Maar (BMM), NE Mt Cameroon, with the aim of documenting its past activity, providing insight on the stratigraphic distribution, depositional process, and evolution of the eruptive sequences during its formation. Field evidence reveals that the BMM deposit is about 126m thick, of which about 20m is buried lowermost under the lake level and covered by vegetation. Based on variation in pyroclastic facies within the deposit, it can be divided into three main stratigraphic units: U1, U2 and U3. Interpretation of these features indicates that U1 consists of alternating lapilli-ash-lapilli beds series, in which fallout derived individual lapilli-rich beds are demarcated by surges deposits made up of thin, fine-grained and consolidated ash-beds that are well-defined, well-sorted and laterally continuous in outcrop scale. U2, a pyroclastic fall-derived unit, shows crudely lenticular stratified scoriaceous layers, in which many fluidal and spindle bombs-rich lapilli-beds are separated by very thin, coarse-vesiculatedash-beds, overlain by a mantle xenolith- and accidental lithic-rich explosive breccia, and massive lapilli tuff and lapillistone. U3 displays a series of surges and pyroclastic fall layers. Emplacement processes were largely controlled by fallout deposition and turbulent diluted pyroclastic density currents under “dry” and “wet” conditions. The eruptive activity evolved in a series of initial phreatic eruptions, which gradually became phreatomagmatic, followed by a phreato-Strombolian and a violent phreatomagmatic fragmentation. A relatively long-time break, demonstrated by a paleosol between U2 and U3, would have permitted the feeding of the root zone or the prominent crater by the water that sustained the next eruptive episode, dominated by subsequent phreatomagmatic eruptions. These preliminary results require complementary studies, such as geochemistry, for a better understanding of the changes in the eruptive styles, and to develop more constraints on the maar’s polygenetic origin.

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