A large caldera cluster consisting of at least four calderas (Omine, Odai, Kumano-North and Kumano calderas) existed in the central–southern part of the Kii Peninsula approximately 14–15 Ma. On the other hand, thick Middle Miocene ash-flow tuffs, referred to as the Muro Ash-flow Tuff and the Sekibutsu Tuff Member, are distributed in the northern part of the Kii Peninsula. Although these tuffs are considered to have erupted from the caldera cluster in the central-southern Kii Peninsula, identifying the source caldera in the cluster has been controversial because of similarities in the petrological characteristics and identical radiometric ages of the volcaniclastic rocks of these calderas. We successfully discriminated the characteristics of the eruptive products of each caldera in the caldera cluster based on the apatite trace-element compositions of the pyroclastic dikes and ash-flow tuffs of the calderas. We also demonstrated that the source caldera of at least the lower main part of the Muro Ash-flow Tuff and the Sekibutsu Tuff Member was the Odai Caldera, which is located in the central Kii Peninsula. Our findings show possible correlations among the pyroclastic conduits and ash-flow tuffs of the caldera-fill and/or outflow deposits, even in cases where they have been densely welded and diagenetically altered. This method is useful for the study of deeply eroded ancient calderas.
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