The bishop tuff: New insights from eruptive stratigraphy

Journal of Geology



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The 0.76 Ma Bishop Tuff, from Long Valley caldera in eastern California, consists of a widespread fall deposit and voluminous partly welded ignimbrite. The fall deposit (F), exposed over an easterly sector below and adjacent to the ignimbrite, is divided into nine units (F1-F9), with no significant time breaks, except possibly between F8 and F9. Maximum clast sizes are compared with other deposits where accumulation rates are known or inferred to estimate an accumulation time for F1-F8 as ca. 90 hrs. The ignimbrite (Ig) is divided into chronologically and/or geographically distinct packages of material. Earlier packages (Ig1) were emplaced mostly eastward, are wholly intraplinian (coeval with fall units F2-F8), lack phenocrystic pyroxenes, and contain few or no Glass Mountain-derived rhyolite lithic fragments. Later packages (Ig2) were erupted mostly to the north and east, are at least partly intraplinian (interbedded with fall unit F9 to the east), contain pyroxenes, and have lithic fractions rich in Glass Mountain-derived rhyolite or other lithologies exposed on the northern caldera rim. Recognition of the intraplinian nature of Ig1 east of the caldera and use of the fall deposit chronometry yields accumulation estimates of ca. 25 hrs for an earlier, less-welded subpackage and ca. 36 hrs for a later, mostly welded subpackage. Average accumulation rates range up to ???1 mm/s of densewelded massive ignimbrite, equivalent to ???2.5 mm/s of non-welded material. Comparisons of internal stratification in Ig1 and northern Ig2 lobes suggest the thickest northern ignimbrite accumulated in ???35 hrs. Identifiable vent positions migrated from an initial site previously proposed in the south-central part of the caldera (F1-8, Ig1) in complex fashion; one vent set (for eastern Ig2) migrated east and north toward Glass Mountain, while another set (for northern Ig2) opened from west to east across the northern caldera margin. Vent locations for Ig1 and Ig2 southwest of the caldera have not been identified. The new stratigraphic framework shows that much of the Bishop ignimbrite is intraplinian in nature, and that fall deposits and ignimbrite units previously inferred to be sequential are largely or wholly coeval. Fundamental reassessment is therefore required of all existing models for the eruption dynamics and the nature and causes of pre-eruptive zonations in trace elements, volatiles, and isotopes in the parental magma chamber.

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The bishop tuff: New insights from eruptive stratigraphy
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Journal of Geology
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