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Early Miocene volcanism in the northern Wilson Creek Range, Lincoln County, Nevada, produced an interfingered sequence of high-silica rhyolite (greater than 74% SiO2) ash-flow tuffs, lava flows and dikes, and mafic lava flows. Three new potassium-argon ages range from 23.9 ?? 1.0 Ma to 22.6 ?? 1.2 Ma. The rocks are similar in composition, stratigraphic character, and age to the Blawn Formation, which is found in ranges to the east and southeast in Utah, and, therefore, are herein established as a western extension of the Blawn Formation. Miocene volcanism in the northern Wilson Creek Range began with the eruption of two geochemically similar, weakly evolved ash-flow tuff cooling units. The lower unit consists of crystal-poor, loosely welded, lapilli ash-flow tuffs, herein called the tuff member of Atlanta Summit. The upper unit consists of homogeneous, crystal-rich, moderately to densely welded ash-flow tuffs, herein called the tuff member of Rosencrans Peak. This unit is as much as 300 m thick and has a minimum eruptive volume of 6.5 km3, which is unusually voluminous for tuffs in the Blawn Formation. Thick, conspicuously flow-layered rhyolite lava flows were erupted penecontemporaneously with the tuffs. The rhyolite lava flows have a range of incompatible trace element concentrations, and some of them show an unusual mixing of aphyric and porphyritic magma. Small volumes of alkaline, vesicular, mafic flows containing 50 weight percent SiO2 and 2.3 weight percent K2O were extruded near the end of the rhyolite volcanic activity. The Blawn Formation records a shift in eruptive style and magmatic composition in the northern Wilson Creek Range. The Blawn was preceded by voluminous Oligocene eruptions of dominantly calc-alkaline orogenic magmas. The Blawn and younger volcanic rocks in the area are low-volume, bimodal suites of high-silica rhyolite tuffs and lava flows and mafic lava flows.
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Early miocene bimodal volcanism, Northern Wilson Creek Range, Lincoln County, Nevada