Cerro Blanco is a caldera in the Andes of the Catamarca Province in Argentina. Part of the Central Volcanic Zone of the Andes, it is a volcano collapse structure located at an altitude of 4,670 metres (15,320 ft) in a depression. The caldera is associated with a less well defined caldera to the south and several lava domes.
The caldera has been active for the last eight million years and eruptions have created several ignimbrites. One of the most recent eruptions occurred 73,000 years ago and formed the Campo de la Piedra Pómez ignimbrite layer. About 5,000 years ago, the largest volcanic eruption of the Central Andes with a volcanic explosivity index of 7 occurred at Cerro Blanco, forming the most recent caldera as well as thick ignimbrite layers. About 110 cubic kilometres (26 cu mi) of rhyolite were erupted then. The volcano is dormant since then with some deformation and geothermal activity. A major future eruption would put local communities to the south at risk.
The volcano is also known for giant ripple marks that have formed on its ignimbrite fields. Persistent wind action on the ground has shifted gravel and sand, forming wave-like structures. These ripple marks have heights up to 1 metre (3 ft 3 in) and are separated by distances up to 30 metres (98 ft). Unlike dunes, they do not migrate with the wind and are stationary. These ripple marks are among the most extreme on Earth and have been compared to Martian ripple marks by geologists.
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