Baldridge, W. Scott Earth and Space Science Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.
Last reviewed:November 2019
- Pyroclastic eruption
- Postcollapse volcanism
- Geothermal systems
- Consequences to humans
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
A large volcanic collapse depression, typically circular to slightly elongate in shape, the dimensions of which are many times greater than any included vent (Fig. 1). Calderas range from a few miles to 45 mi (75 km) in diameter. A caldera may resemble a volcanic crater in form but differs genetically in that it is a collapse rather than a constructional feature. The topographic depression resulting from collapse is commonly widened by slumping of the sides along shallowly rooted faults, so that the topographic caldera wall lies outside the main structural boundary. A caldera may include vents formed by postcollapse volcanism. Its name derives from the Spanish caldera, meaning caldron or kettle. As originally defined, caldron referred to volcanic subsidence structures, and caldera referred only to the topographic depression formed by collapse. However, caldera is now common as a synonym for caldron, denoting both topographic and structural features of collapse. See also: Petrology
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