The increasing number of field investigations and various controlled benchtop and large‐scale experiments have permitted the evaluation of a large number of processes involved in the formation of maar‐diatreme volcanoes, the second most common type of small‐volume subaerial volcanoes on Earth. A maar‐diatreme volcano is recognized by a volcanic crater that is cut into country rocks and surrounded by a low‐height ejecta rim composed of pyroclastic deposits of few meters to up to 200 m thick above the syn‐eruptive surface level. The craters vary from 0.1 km to up to 5 km wide and vary in depth from a few dozen meters to up to 300 m deep. Their irregular morphology reflects the simple or complex volcanic and cratering processes involved in their formation. The simplicity or complexity of the crater or the entire maar itself is usually observed in the stratigraphy of the surrounding ejecta rings. The latter are composed of sequences of successive alternating and contrastingly bedded phreatomagmatic‐derived dilute pyroclastic density currents (PDC) and fallout depositions, with occasional interbedded Strombolian‐derived spatter materials or scoria fall units, exemplifying the changes in the eruptive styles during the formation of the volcano. The entire stratigraphic sequence might be preserved as a single eruptive package (small or very thick) in which there is no stratigraphic gap or significant discordance indicative of a potential break during the eruption. A maar with a single eruptive deposit is quantified as monogenetic maar, meaning that it was formed by a single eruptive vent from which only a small and ephemeral magma erupted over a short period of time. The stratigraphy may also display several packages of deposits separated either by contrasting discordance surfaces or paleosoils, which reflect multiple phases or episodes of eruptions within the same maar. Such maars are characterized as complex polycyclic maars if the length of time between the eruptive events is relatively short (days to years). For greater length of time (thousands to millions of years), the complex maar will be quantified as polygenetic. These common depositional breaks interpreted as signs of temporal interruption of the eruptions for various timescales also indicate deep magma system processes; hence magmas of different types might erupt during the formation of both simple and complex maars. The feeding dikes can interact with groundwater and form closely distributed small craters. The latter can coalesce to form a final crater with various shapes depending on the distance between them. This observation indicates the significant role of the magmatic plumbing system on the formation and growth of complex and polygenetic maar‐diatreme volcanoes.
Part of the book: Updates in Volcanology