Independence volcano is a major volcanic complex in the lower part of the Absaroka Volcanic Supergroup (AVS) of Montana and Wyoming. Recently reported Rb-Sr mineral dates from the complex give apparent ages of 91 and 84 Ma, whereas field relationships and the physical and compositional similarity of the rocks with other dated parts of the AVS indicate an Early to Middle Eocene age for eruption and deposition. To resolve the conflict between age assignments based on stratigraphic correlations and Rb-Sr dates, we report new paleomagnetic data and 40Ar/39Ar dates for Independence volcano. Paleomagnetic data for the stock and an and andesite plug that cuts the stock are well grouped, of reverse polarity, and yield a virtual geomagnetic pole that is essentially identical to Late Cretaceous and Tertiary reference poles. The reverse polarity indicates that the magnetization of these rocks is probably younger than the Cretaceous normal superchron, or less than about 83.5 Ma. Hornblende from a volcanic breccia near the base of the volcanic pile gives a 40Ar/39Ar age of 51.57 Ma, whereas biotites from a dacite sill and a granodiorite stock that forms the core of the volcano give dates that range from 49.96 to 48.50 Ma. These dates record the age of eruption and intrusion of these rocks and clearly show that the age of Independence volcano is Early to Middle Eocene, consistent with stratigraphic relations. We suggest that the Rb-Sr mineral dates from the Independence stock and related intrusions are unreliable.
Additional publication details
40Ar/39Ar geochronology and paleomagnetism of Independence volcano, Absaroka volcanic supergroup, Beartooth mountains, Montana