The Tertiary Taylor Creek Rhyolite of southwest New Mexico comprises at least 20 lava domes and flows. Each of the lavas was erupted from its own vent, and the vents are distributed throughout a 20 km by 50 km area. The volume of the rhyolite and genetically associated pyroclastic deposits is at least 100 km3 (denserock equivalent). The rhyolite contains 15%-35% quartz, sanidine, plagioclase, ??biotite, ??hornblende phenocrysts. Quartz and sanidine account for about 98% of the phenocrysts and are present in roughly equal amounts. With rare exceptions, the groundmass consists of intergrowths of fine-grained silica and alkali feldspar. Whole-rock major-element composition varies little, and the rhyolite is metaluminous to weakly peraluminous; mean SiO2 content is about 77.5??0.3%. Similarly, major-element compositions of the two feldsparphenocryst species also are nearly constant. However, whole-rock concentrations of some trace-elements vary as much as several hundred percent. Initial radiometric age determinations, all K-Ar and fission track, suggest that the rhyolite lava field grew during a period of at least 2 m.y. Subsequent 40Ar/39Ar ages indicate that the period of growth was no more than 100 000 years. The time-space-composition relations thus suggest that the Taylor Creek Rhyolite was erupted from a single magma reservoir whose average width was at least 30 km, comparable in size to several penecontemporaneous nearby calderas. However, this rhyolite apparently is not related to a caldera structure. Possibly, the Taylor Creek Phyolite magma body never became sufficiently volatile rich to produce a large-volume pyroclastic eruption and associated caldera collapse, but instead leaked repeatedly to feed many relatively small domes and flows. The new 40Ar/39Ar ages do not resolve preexisting unknown relative-age relations among the domes and flows of the lava field. Nonetheless, the indicated geologically brief period during which Taylor Creek Rhyolite magma was erupted imposes useful constraints for future evaluation of possible models for petrogenesis and the origin of trace-element characteristics of the system. ?? 1990 Springer-Verlag.
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The Taylor Creek Rhyolite of New Mexico: a rapidly emplaced field of lava domes and flows