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Tephra layers of blind Spring Valley and related upper pliocene and pleistocene tephra layers, California, Nevada, and Utah: isotopic ages, correlation, and magnetostratigraphy

Professional Paper 1701

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Abstract

Numerical ages have been determined for a stratigraphic sequence of silicic tephra layers exposed at the Cowan Pumice Mine in Blind Spring Valley, near Benton Hot Springs, east-central California, as well as at Chalk Cliffs, north of Bishop, Calif. The tephra layers at these sites were deposited after eruptions from nearby sources, most of them from near Glass Mountain, and some from unknown sources. The ages were determined primarily by the laser-fusion 40Ar/39Ar method, mostly on sanidine feldspar; two were determined by conventional K-Ar analysis on obsidian clasts. These tephra layers, all underlying the Bishop ash bed and listed in order of concordant age and stratigraphic position, are: Tephra Unit Method Material Age Bishop Tuff (air-fall pumice) Ar/Ar sanidine 0.759?0.002 Ma* Upper tuffs of Glass Mountain Ar/Ar sanidine 0.87?0.02 Ma Upper tuffs of Glass Mountain Ar/Ar sanidine 1.13?0.19 Ma Lower tuffs of Glass Mountain K-Ar obsidian 1.86?0.09 Ma (avg of 2 dates) Ar/Ar sanidine 1.92?0.02 Ma (avg of 2 dates) Tuffs of Blind Spring Valley Ar/Ar sanidine 2.135?0.02 to sanidine 2.219?0.006 Ma (10 dates) Tuffs of Benton Hot Springs Ar/Ar plagioclase 2.81?0.02 Ma *Date published previously The above tephra layers were also petrographically examined and the volcanic glass shards of the layers were chemically analyzed using the electron microprobe and, for some samples, instrumental neutron activation analysis and X-ray fluorescence. The same types of chemical and petrographic analyses were conducted on stratigraphic sequences of tephra layers of suspected upper Pliocene and Pleistocene age in several past and present depositional basins within the region outside of Blind Spring Valley. Chemical characterization, combined with additional dates and with magnetostratigraphy of thick sections at two of the distal sites, allow correlation of the tephra layers at the Cowan Pumice Mine with layers present at the distal sites and provide age constraints for other intercalated tephra layers and sediments for which age data were previously lacking. The identification at several sections of the widespread Huckleberry Ridge ash bed, derived from the Yellowstone eruptive source area in Wyoming, as well as a new 40Ar/39Ar age on this ash bed from a proximal locality, provide additional age constraints to several of the distal sections. The dated or temporally bracketed distal units, in order of concordant age and stratigraphic position, are: Tephra Unit Method Material Age Tephra layers of Glass Mountain (undiff.) P-mag.*; correlation N/A <1.78 Ma Tephra layers of Glass Mountain (lower) P-mag.*; correlation N/A >1.78 , <1.96Ma Tephra layers of Emigrant Pass P-mag.*; correlation N/A >1.96, <2.06 Ma Tephra layer of Confidence Hills Correlation, p-mag.* N/A >1.96, <2.06 Ma Huckleberry Ridge ash bed Ar/Ar; correlation sanidine 2.063?0.007 Ma Tephra layers of Blind Spring Valley Correlation N/A 2.135 to 2.219 Ma Tephra layers of the Badlands (upper) Correlation; p-mag.* N/A >2.22, <2.57 Ma Tephra layers of the Badlands (lower) P-mag.*; correlation N/A >2.57, <2.89 Ma Tephra layers of Benton Hot Springs Ar/Ar; correlation plagioclase 2.89?0.03 Ma *Magnetostratigraphic polarity determination At the Cowan Pumice Mine, only a partial section of the eruptive record is preserved, but the best materials for laser-fusion 40Ar/39Ar and other isotopic dating methods were obtained. In the more distal Willow Wash and Confidence Hills sections, both persistent depositional basins for most of late Pliocene time, more complete sections of upper Pliocene tephra layers were preserved. In the region of Glass Mountain, the tephra layers that make up each of the mapped and dated pyroclastic units are multiple and complex, but a progressive simplification of the stratigraphy away from the source area was observed for more distal sites in southern and southwestern California and in Utah. This progressive

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Report
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
Title:
Tephra layers of blind Spring Valley and related upper pliocene and pleistocene tephra layers, California, Nevada, and Utah: isotopic ages, correlation, and magnetostratigraphy
Series title:
Professional Paper
Series number:
1701
Edition:
-
Year Published:
2005
Language:
ENGLISH
Description:
69 p.