Four late Cenozoic rhyolite domes lie atop the Kern Plateau, 30 to 40km S-SE of Mount Whitney. K-Ar and 40Ar/39Ar dating shows that Monache, Templeton, and Little Templeton Mountains are all about 2.4Ma old; a small dome nearby is approx 0.2Ma old. The three older rhyolites have SiO2 = 73-74% and have steep, fractionated rare earth element (REE) patterns; the youngest has SiO2 = 76% and a concave-upward REE pattern with a large negative Eu anomaly, Monache rhyolite contains the unusual phenocryst assemblage almandine + fayalite + biotite + oligoclase. The 2.4Ma old rocks may be nearly unmodified partial melts of crustal sources, whereas the 0.2Ma old rhyolite may be a product of relatively shallow differentiation. The rhyolites and nearby basalts are coeval with mafic and silicic volcanic rocks in the Coso Range about 40km to the SE. Their generation and eruption may reflect intense tectonic extension at the margin of the Basin and Range province and concomitant relaxation of compressive stress in a W- NW direction, allowing melts to reach the surface in the adjacent Sierra Nevada.-Authors
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Late Cenzoic rhyolites from the Kern Plateau, southern Sierra Nevada, California.