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A rhyolitic ash-flow tuff in a hydrothermally active area within the Yellowstone caldera was drilled in 1967, and cores were studied to determine the nature and distribution of primary and secondary mineral phases. The rocks have undergone a complex history of crystallization and hydrothermal alteration since their emplacement 600,000 years ago. During cooling from magmatic temperatures, the glassy groundmass underwent either devitrification to alkali feldspar + ??-cristobalite ?? tridymite or granophyric crystallization to alkali feldspar + quartz. Associated with the zones of granophyric crystallization are prismatic quartz crystals in cavities similar to those termed miarolitic in plutonic rocks. Vapor-phase alkali feldspar, tridymite, magnetite, and sporadic ??-cristobalite were deposited in cavities and in void spaces of pumice fragments. Subsequently, some of the vapor-phase alkali feldspar crystals were replaced by microcrystalline quartz, and the vapor-phase minerals were frosted by a coating of saccharoidal quartz. Hydrothermal minerals occur primarily as linings and fillings of cavities and fractures and as altered mafic phenocrysts. Chalcedony is the dominant mineral related to the present hydrothermal regime and occurs as microcrystalline material mixed with various amounts of hematite and goethite. The chalcedony displays intricate layering and was apparently deposited as opal from silica-rich water. Hematite and goethite also replace both mafic phenocrysts and vapor-phase magnetite. Other conspicuous hydrothermal minerals include montmorillonite, pyrite, mordenite, calcite, and fluorite. Clinoptilolite, erionite, illite, kaolinite, and manganese oxides are sporadic. The hydrothermal minerals show little correlation with temperature, but bladed calcite is restricted to a zone of boiling in the tuff and clearly was deposited when CO2 was lost during boiling. Fractures and breccias filled with chalcedony are common throughout Y-5 and may have been produced by rapid disruption of rock caused by sudden decrease of fluid pressure in fractures, most likely a result of fracturing during resurgent doming in this part of the Yellowstone caldera. The chalcedony probably was deposited as opal or ??-cristobalite from a pre-existing silica floc that moved rapidly into the fractures and breccias immediately after the sudden pressure drop. ?? 1978.
Additional Publication Details
Minerals produced during cooling and hydrothermal alteration of ash flow tuff from Yellowstone drill hole Y-5