The Miocene Cappadocian Ignimbrites sequence


Cappadocian volcanic

A general view of Cappadocian volcanic plateau (Photo: Ali İhsan Gökçen).

Geological Period

10-5 MA (Miocene)

Main geological interest

Geomorphology and active geological processes


Cappadocia plateau, Turkey.
38°40’36.0″N, 34°51’16.0″E

A general view of Cappadocian volcanic plateau (Photo: Ali İhsan Gökçen).

Voluminous eruption deposits in a fluvio-lacustrine sequence with ‘fairy-chimney’ development produced by uplift and erosion.

Cappadocian Volcanic Province is a good example of coeval activity of sedimentation, volcanism and faulting. Emplacement of voluminous ignimbrites is interstratified with sedimentary rocks of the same basin. Nine ignimbrites were identified, mapped, dated and studied in detail. The thickness of the sequence is more than 430 m. Several primary sedimentological structures related to the fluctuation of the basin level were formed during emplacement of the ignimbrites. The presence of fossil mammals provide the opportunity to calibrate the paleontological record with absolute dates.

Fairy chimneys with ancient rock-hewn settlements in Zelve ignimbrite (Photo: Vedat Toprak).

Cappadocian Volcanic Province (CVP) is a Neogene-Quaternary volcanic field located in the central Turkey that extends in NE–SW direction for a length of 300 km and a width of 20–50 km. Formation of CVP is attributed to the convergence between Afro-Arabian and Eurasian continents (Le Pennec et al., 2005 and references therein). The most prominent feature of the CVP is the presence of several thick and widespread voluminous ignimbrites interstratified with fluvio-lacustrine strata. This sequence was deposited in a basin that developed under the control of faults, which were coeval with volcanic activity and sedimentation (Toprak, 1998). The source of the ignimbrites, which are large calderas, are buried today (Froger et al., 1998). All ignimbrites are well-studied in terms of petrography, geochemistry, age and stratigraphy (Schumacher and Mues-Schumacher, 1997; Temel et al., 1998; Le Pennec et al., 2005). Maars and maar volcanism were sometimes associated with tectonism in the area (Gevrek and Kazancı, 2000). “Fairy-chimneys” are a typical and unique product of CVP, which are formed by subsequent uplift and erosion of ignimbrites. These structures are developed in the form of cones under certain thickness, welding and topographic slope conditions of ignimbrites.

The area has been attractive for studies of volcanology, tectonism and sedimentology as it includes diverse features. Formation of systematic “fairy chimneys” draw the attention of geomorphology and engineering geology. Numerous rock-cut settlements carved into the ignimbrites also should be noted for their cultural heritage.

Simplified geological map of Cappadocian Volcanic Province (Toprak, 1998).

Froger, J.-L. et al. (1998) ‘Hidden calderas evidenced by multisource geophysical data; example of Cappadocian Calderas, Central Anatolia’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 85(1), pp. 99–128. Available at:

Gevrek, A.İ. and Kazanci, N. (2000) ‘A Pleistocene, pyroclastic-poor maar from central Anatolia, Turkey: influence of a local fault on a phreatomagmatic eruption’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 95(1), pp. 309–317. Available at:

Le Pennec, J.-L. et al. (2005) ‘Stratigraphy and age of the Cappadocia ignimbrites, Turkey: reconciling field constraints with paleontologic, radiochronologic, geochemical and paleomagnetic data’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 141(1), pp. 45–64. Available at:

Schumacher, R. and Mues-Schumacher, U. (1997) ‘The pre-ignimbrite (phreato) plinian and phreatomagmatic phases of the Akdag-Zelve ignimbrite eruption in Central Anatolia, Turkey’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 78(1), pp. 139–153. Available at:

Temel, A. et al. (1998) ‘Ignimbrites of Cappadocia (Central Anatolia, Turkey): petrology and geochemistry’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 85(1), pp. 447–471. Available at:

Toprak, V. (1998) ‘Vent distribution and its relation to regional tectonics, Cappadocian Volcanics, Turkey’, Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 85(1), pp. 55–67. Available at:

Vedat Toprak
Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey

Nizamettin Kazancı
Ankara University, Ankara, Turkey