Rhyodacites of Kulshan caldera, North Cascades of Washington: Postcaldera lavas that span the Jaramillo

Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
By: , and 



Kulshan caldera (4.5×8 km), at the northeast foot of Mount Baker, is filled with rhyodacite ignimbrite (1.15 Ma) and postcaldera lavas and is only the third Quaternary caldera identified in the Cascade arc. A gravity traverse across the caldera yields a steep-sided, symmetrical, complete Bouguer anomaly of −16 mGal centered over the caldera. Density considerations suggest that the caldera fill, which is incised to an observed thickness of 1 km, may be about 1.5 km thick and is flat-floored, overlying a cylindrical piston of subsided metamorphic rocks. Outflow sheets have been stripped by advances of the Cordilleran Ice Sheet, but the climactic fallout (Lake Tapps tephra) is as thick as 30 cm some 200 km south of the caldera. Ten precaldera units, which range in 40Ar/39Ar age from 1.29 to 1.15 Ma, are dikes and erosional scraps that probably never amounted to a large edifice. A dozen postcaldera rhyodacite lavas and dikes range in age from 1.15 to 0.99 Ma; rhyodacites have subsequently been absent, the silicic reservoir having finally crystallized. At least 60 early Pleistocene intermediate dikes next intruded the caldera fill, helping energize an acid–sulfate hydrothermal system and constituting the main surviving record of an early postcaldera andesite–dacite pile presumed to have been large. Most of the pre- and postcaldera rhyodacites were dated by 40Ar/39Ar or K–Ar methods, and 13 were drilled for remanent magnetic directions. In agreement with the radiometric ages, the paleomagnetic data indicate that eruptions took place before, during, and after the Jaramillo Normal Polarity Subchron, and that one rhyodacite with transitional polarity may represent the termination of the Jaramillo. Most of the biotite–hornblende–orthopyroxene–plagioclase rhyodacite lavas, dikes, and tuffs are in the range 68–73% SiO2, but there were large compositional fluctuations during the 300-kyr duration of the rhyodacite episode. The rhyodacitic magma reservoir was wider (11 km) than the caldera that collapsed into it (8 km).

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Rhyodacites of Kulshan caldera, North Cascades of Washington: Postcaldera lavas that span the Jaramillo
Series title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
DOI 10.1016/S0377-0273(03)00290-7
Volume 130
Issue 3-4
Year Published 2004
Language English
Contributing office(s) Volcano Hazards Program
Description 38 p.
First page 227
Last page 264
Country United States
State Washington
Other Geospatial Kulshan caldera
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