The prehistoric (< 7 ka) Zaro eruption at Ischia island (Southern Italy) produced a lava complex overlaying a pyroclastic deposit. Although being of low energy, the Zaro eruption might have caused casualties among the neolithic population that inhabited that area of Ischia, and damages to their settlements. A similar eruption at Ischia with its present-day population would turn into a disaster. Therefore, understanding the magmatic processes that triggered the Zaro eruption would be important for volcanic hazard assessment and risk mitigation, so as to improve a knowledge that can be applied to other active volcanic areas worldwide. The main Zaro lava body is trachyte and hosts abundant mafic and felsic enclaves. Here all juvenile facies have been fully characterized from petrographic, geochemical and isotopic viewpoints. The whole dataset (major and trace element contents; Sr–Nd isotopic composition) leads to rule out a genetic link by fractional crystallization among the variable facies. Thus, we suggest that the Zaro mafic enclaves could represent a deep-origin mafic magma that mingled/mixed with the main trachytic one residing in the Ischia shallow magmatic system. The intrusion of such a mafic magma into a shallow reservoir filled by partly crystallized, evolved magma could have destabilized the magmatic system presumably acting as a rapid eruption trigger. The resulting processes of convection, mixing and rejuvenation have possibly played an important role in pre- and syn-eruptive phases also in several eruptions of different sizes in the Neapolitan area and elsewhere in the world.
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