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The Craters of the Moon 30 x 60 minute quadrangle shows the geology of the northern two-thirds of the Craters of the Moon (COM) lava field and volcanic structures of the northern and central parts of the Great Rift volcanic rift zone. The COM lava field is the largest, predominantly Holocene lava field in the conterminous United States. The northwest corner of the map shows older sedimentary, intrusive, and volcanic rocks that range in age from Ordovician to Miocene. These rocks provide evidence of compressional fold and thrust events of the Antler and Sevier orogenies. Compression was followed by voluminous volcanism represented by the Challis Volcanic Group. Basin-and-Range faulting followed in Neogene time.
The COM lava field covers about 1,600 square kilometers and contains about 30 cubic kilometers of lava flows and associated vent deposits. Stratigraphic relationships, paleomagnetic studies, and radiocarbon ages indicate that the field formed during eight eruptive periods designated as H, the oldest, to A, the youngest. Each eruptive period was several hundred years or less in duration and separated from other eruptive periods by non-eruptive recurrence intervals of several hundred to about 3,000 years. The first eruptive period began about 15,000 carbon-14 years ago and the latest one ended about 2,100 carbon-14 years ago.
All available field, paleomagnetic, radiocarbon, and argon-40/argon-39 data are incorporated in this map and they quantitatively refine the volcanic and paleomagnetic history of the pre-Holocene lava fields and the COM lava field. In a sense, these data determine the 'pulse rate' for Pleistocene and Holocene basaltic volcanism in the area of this map.
Twenty-three new argon-40/argon-39 geochronologic data reveal a fairly complete and continuous record of basaltic volcanism in the Craters of the Moon 30 x 60 minute quadrangle for the last 500 ka. The ages cluster into age groupings at ~30 ka, 50-70 ka, 100-125 ka, 260-290 ka, 320-340 ka, and 475 ka. There are apparent periods of ~30 to 60 ka duration when little or no volcanic activity took place between groups.
Magnetic polarity and remanent inclination and declination directions for most lava flows in the quadrangle have normal magnetic polarity; they were emplaced during the Brunhes Normal Polarity Chron and are younger than 780,000 years. Directions of remanent magnetization and the new argon-40/argon-39 ages were used to correlate and approximately date lava flows and lava fields for this map.
Additional Publication Details
USGS Numbered Series
Geologic Map of the Craters of the Moon 30' x 60' Quadrangle, Idaho
Scientific Investigations Map
Geological Survey (U.S.)
U.S. Geological Survey
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