Part of a series of articles titled Volcanic Eruption Styles.
Previous: Plinian Eruptions
Ultra-Plinian eruptions are the largest of all volcanic eruptions, and are so voluminous that large calderas form above vacated magma chambers. These eruptions are more intense and have a higher eruption rate than Plinian ones and form higher eruption columns. These eruptions produce thick pyroclastic flows that cover vast areas and may produce widespread ash-fall deposits.
The centers that produce the largest eruptions (e.g., that have a volume in excess of 200 cubic miles or 1,000 cubic kilometers) are known as supervolcanoes. These supervolcanoes are typically massive calderas, such as the Lava Creek eruption 640,000 years ago that formed the Yellowstone caldera which covers an area 30 miles by 45 miles (50 by 70 km).
Typical magma composition: silicic (rhyolitic)
Description: Colossal, Mega-colossal, Apocalyptic
Eruption Products: tephra, pumice, fallout ash, pyroclastic flows
National Park examples: Mount Mazama in Crater Lake National Park, and the entirety of Yellowstone National Park
USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory—Crater Lake
USGS Yellowstone Volcano Observatory—Yellowstone Plateau volcanic field
Last updated: April 14, 2023