Lithic breccia and ignimbrite erupted during the collapse of Crater Lake Caldera, Oregon

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By:  and 



The climactic eruption of Mount Mazama (6845 y.B.P.) vented a total of ∼50 km3 of compositionally zoned rhyodacitic to basaltic magma from: (a) a single vent as a Plinian pumice fall deposit and the overlying Wineglass Welded Tuff, and (b) ring vents as ignimbrite and coignimbrite lithic breccia accompanying the collapse of Crater Lake caldera. New field and grain-size data for the ring-vent products are presented in this report. The coarse-grained, poorly bedded, clast-supported lithic breccia extends as far as 18 km from the caldera center. Like the associated ignimbrite, the breccia is compositionally zoned both radially and vertically, and silicic, mixed, and mafic types can be recognized, based on the proportion of rhyodacitic pumice. Matrix fractions in silicic breccias are depleted of fines and are lithic- and crystal-enriched relative to silicic ignimbrite due to vigorous gas sorting during emplacement. Ignimbrite occurs as a proximal veneer deposit overlying the breccia, a medial (∼ 8 to ∼ 25 km from the caldera center), compositionally zoned valley fill as much as > 110 m thick, and an unzoned distal (⪖ 20 km) facies which extends as far as 55 km from the caldera. Breccia within ∼ 9 km of the caldera center is interpreted as a coignimbrite lag breccia formed within the deflation zone of the collapsing ring-vent eruption columns. Expanded pyroclastic flows of the deflation zone were probably vertically graded in both size and concentration of blocks, as recently postulated for some turbidity currents. An inflection in the rate of falloff of lithic-clast size within the lithic breccia at ∼ 9 km may mark the outer edge of the deflation zone or may be an artifact of incomplete exposure. The onset of ring-vent activity at Mt. Mazama was accompanied by a marked increase in eruptive discharge. Pyroclastic flows were emplaced as a semicontinuous stream, as few ignimbrite flow-unit boundaries are evident. As eruption from the ring vents progressed, flow-runout distance and the extent of breccia deposition decreased due to (a) greater internal flow friction, and (b) decreasing eruption column heights. Effect (b) probably resulted from a progressive decrease in magmatic gas content and discharge rate. Waning discharge may have been promoted by the tapping of more viscous, crystal-rich magma, collapse of conduit walls, and declining caldera collapse rate.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Lithic breccia and ignimbrite erupted during the collapse of Crater Lake Caldera, Oregon
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/0377-0273(86)90038-7
Volume 29
Issue 1-4
Year Published 1986
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 32 p.
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
First page 1
Last page 32
Country United States
State Oregon
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