A new category of large-scale volcanism, here termed Snake River (SR)-type volcanism, is defined with reference to a distinctive volcanic facies association displayed by Miocene rocks in the central Snake River Plain area of southern Idaho and northern Nevada, USA. The facies association contrasts with those typical of silicic volcanism elsewhere and records unusual, voluminous and particularly environmentally devastating styles of eruption that remain poorly understood. It includes: (1) large-volume, lithic-poor rhyolitic ignimbrites with scarce pumice lapilli; (2) extensive, parallel-laminated, medium to coarse-grained ashfall deposits with large cuspate shards, crystals and a paucity of pumice lapilli; many are fused to black vitrophyre; (3) unusually extensive, large-volume rhyolite lavas; (4) unusually intense welding, rheomorphism, and widespread development of lava-like facies in the ignimbrites; (5) extensive, fines-rich ash deposits with abundant ash aggregates (pellets and accretionary lapilli); (6) the ashfall layers and ignimbrites contain abundant clasts of dense obsidian and vitrophyre; (7) a bimodal association between the rhyolitic rocks and numerous, coalescing low-profile basalt lava shields; and (8) widespread evidence of emplacement in lacustrine-alluvial environments, as revealed by intercalated lake sediments, ignimbrite peperites, rhyolitic and basaltic hyaloclastites, basalt pillow-lava deltas, rhyolitic and basaltic phreatomagmatic tuffs, alluvial sands and palaeosols. Many rhyolitic eruptions were high mass-flux, large volume and explosive (VEI 6-8), and involved H2O-poor, low-??18O, metaluminous rhyolite magmas with unusually low viscosities, partly due to high magmatic temperatures (900-1,050??C). SR-type volcanism contrasts with silicic volcanism at many other volcanic fields, where the fall deposits are typically Plinian with pumice lapilli, the ignimbrites are low to medium grade (non-welded to eutaxitic) with abundant pumice lapilli or fiamme, and the rhyolite extrusions are small volume silicic domes and coule??es. SR-type volcanism seems to have occurred at numerous times in Earth history, because elements of the facies association occur within some other volcanic fields, including Trans-Pecos Texas, Etendeka-Paran, Lebombo, the English Lake District, the Proterozoic Keewanawan volcanics of Minnesota and the Yardea Dacite of Australia. ?? Springer-Verlag 2007.
Additional publication details
'Snake River (SR)-type' volcanism at the Yellowstone hotspot track: Distinctive products from unusual, high-temperature silicic super-eruptions