The central San Juan caldera complex consists of seven calderas from which eight major ash-flow tuffs were erupted during a period of intense volcanic activity that lasted for approximately 2 m.y. about 26-28 Ma. The analytical precision of conventional K-Ar dating in this time interval is not sufficient to unambiguously resolve this complex history. However, 40Ar 39Ar incremental-heating experiments provide data for a high-resolution chronology that is consistent with stratigraphie relations. Weighted-mean age-spectrum plateau ages of biotite and sanidine are the most precise with standard deviations ranging from 0.08 to 0.21 m.y. The pooled estimate of standard deviation for the plateau ages of 12 minerals is about 0.5 percent or about 125,000 to 135,000 years. Age measurements on coexisting minerals from one tuff and on two samples of each of two other tuffs indicate that a precision in the age of a tuff of better than 100,000 years can be achieved at 27 Ma. New data indicate that the San Luis caldera is the youngest caldera in the central complex, not the Creede caldera as previously thought. ?? 1988.
Additional publication details
High-resolution 40Ar 39Ar chronology of Oligocene volcanic rocks, San Juan Mountains, Colorado