Hydrothermal alteration of a rhyolitic hyaloclastite from Ponza island, Italy

Robert F. Ylagan, Stephen P. Altaner, Antonio Pozzuoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A rhyolitic hyaloclastite from Ponza island, Italy, has been hydrothermally altered producing four distinct alteration zones based on XRD and field textures: (1) non-pervasive argillic zone; (2) propylitic zone; (3) silicic zone; and (4) sericitic zone. The unaltered hyaloclastite is a volcanic breccia with clasts of vesiculated obsidian in a matrix of predominantly pumice lapilli. Incomplete alteration of the hyaloclastite resulted in the non pervasive argillic zone, characterized by smectite and disordered opal-CT. Obsidian clasts, some pumice lapilli, and pyrogenic plagioclase and biotite are unaltered. Smectite has an irregular flakey morphology, although euhedral particles are occasionally observed. The propylitic zone is characterized by mixed-layer illite/smectite (I/S) with 10 to 85% illite (I), mordenite, opal-C and authigenic K-feldspar (akspar). The matrix of the hyaloclastite is completely altered and obsidian clasts are silicified; however, plagioclase and biotite phenocrysts remain unaltered. Flakey I/S replaces pumice, and mordenite, akspar and silica line and fill pores. I/S particles are composed predominantly of subequant plates and euhedral laths. The silicic zone is characterized by highly illitic I/S with ≥ 90% I, quartz, akspar and occasional albite. In this zone the matrix and clasts are completely altered, and pyrogenic plagioclase shows significant alteration. Illitic I/S has a euhedral lath-like morphology. In the sericitic zone the hyaloclastite altered primarily to illitic I/S with ≥ 66% I, quartz, and minor akspar and pyrite. Clay minerals completely replace pyrogenic feldspars and little evidence remains of the original hyaloclastite texture. Unlike other zones, illitic I/S is fibrous and pure illite samples are composed of euhedral laths and hexagonal plates. The temperatures of hydrothermal alteration likely ranged from 30 to 90°C for the argillic zone, from 110 to 160°C for the propylitic zone, from 160 to 270°C for the silicic zone, and were possibly as high as 300°C for the sericitic zone. The four zones occur as linear bands that increase in intensity north of the bentonite mine at Cala dell'Acqua. The alteration zones have two orientations and may be structurally controlled by E-W- and NE-SW-trending faulting which is consistent with the dominant structural trends of the Pontine archipelago. Finally, hydrothermal alteration most likely involved seawater based on the geologic evolution of Ponza.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-231
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1996


  • Hydrothermal alteration
  • Illite/smectite
  • Mordenite
  • Silica minerals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geophysics
  • Geochemistry and Petrology


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