Unusual monotonous intermediate ignimbrites consist of phenocryst-rich dacite that occurs as very large volume (> 1000 km3) deposits that lack systematic compositional zonation, comagmatic rhyolite precursors, and underlying plinian beds. They are distinct from countless, usually smaller volume, zoned rhyolite-dacite-andesite deposits that are conventionally believed to have erupted from magma chambers in which thermal and compositional gradients were established because of sidewall crystallization and associated convective fractionation. Despite their great volume, or because of it, monotonous intermediates have received little attention. Documentation of the stratigraphy, composition, and geologic setting of the Lund Tuff - one of four monotonous intermediate tuffs in the middle-Tertiary Great Basin ignimbrite province - provides insight into its unusual origin and, by implication, the origin of other similar monotonous intermediates. The Lund Tuff is a single cooling unit with normal magnetic polarity whose volume likely exceeded 3000 km3. It was emplaced 29.02 ?? 0.04 Ma in and around the coeval White Rock caldera which has an unextended north-south diameter of about 50 km. The tuff is monotonous in that its phenocryst assemblage is virtually uniform throughout the deposit: plagioclase > quartz ??? hornblende > biotite > Fe-Ti oxides ??? sanidine > titanite, zircon, and apatite. However, ratios of phenocrysts vary by as much as an order of magnitude in a manner consistent with progressive crystallization in the pre-eruption chamber. A significant range in whole-rock chemical composition (e.g., 63-71 wt% SiO2) is poorly correlated with phenocryst abundance. These compositional attributes cannot have been caused wholly by winnowing of glass from phenocrysts during eruption, as has been suggested for the monotonous intermediate Fish Canyon Tuff. Pumice fragments are also crystal-rich, and chemically and mineralogically indistinguishable from bulk tuff. We postulate that convective mixing in a sill-like magma chamber precluded development of a zoned chamber with a rhyolitic top or of a zoned pyroclastic deposit. Chemical variations in the Lund Tuff are consistent with equilibrium crystallization of a parental dacitic magma followed by eruptive mixing of compositionally diverse crystals and high-silica rhyolite vitroclasts during evacuation and emplacement. This model contrasts with the more systematic withdrawal from a bottle-shaped chamber in which sidewall crystallization creates a marked vertical compositional gradient and a substantial volume of capping-evolved rhyolite magma. Eruption at exceptionally high discharge rates precluded development of an underlying plinian deposit. The generation of the monotonous intermediate Lund magma and others like it in the middle Tertiary of the western USA reflects an unusually high flux of mantle-derived mafic magma into unusually thick and warm crust above a subducting slab of oceanic lithosphere. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.
Additional Publication Details
The oligocene Lund Tuff, Great Basin, USA: A very large volume monotonous intermediate