Months between rejuvenation and volcanic eruption at Yellowstone caldera, Wyoming

Geology
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Abstract

Rejuvenation of previously intruded silicic magma is an important process leading to effusive rhyolite, which is the most common product of volcanism at calderas with protracted histories of eruption and unrest such as Yellowstone, Long Valley, and Valles, USA. Although orders of magnitude smaller in volume than rare caldera-forming super-eruptions, these relatively frequent effusions of rhyolite are comparable to the largest eruptions of the 20th century and pose a considerable volcanic hazard. However, the physical pathway from rejuvenation to eruption of silicic magma is unclear particularly because the time between reheating of a subvolcanic intrusion and eruption is poorly quantified. This study uses geospeedometry of trace element profiles with nanometer resolution in sanidine crystals to reveal that Yellowstone’s most recent volcanic cycle began when remobilization of a near- or sub-solidus silicic magma occurred less than 10 months prior to eruption, following a 220,000 year period of volcanic repose. Our results reveal a geologically rapid timescale for rejuvenation and effusion of ~3 km3 of high-silica rhyolite lava even after protracted cooling of the subvolcanic system, which is consistent with recent physical modeling that predict a timescale of several years or less. Future renewal of rhyolitic volcanism at Yellowstone is likely to require an energetic intrusion of mafic or silicic magma into the shallow subvolcanic reservoir and could rapidly generate an eruptible rhyolite on timescales similar to those documented here.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Months between rejuvenation and volcanic eruption at Yellowstone caldera, Wyoming
Series title Geology
DOI 10.1130/G36862.1
Volume 43
Issue 8
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Publisher location Boulder, CO
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Description 4 p.
First page 695
Last page 698
Country United States
State Wyoming
Other Geospatial Yellowstone caldera
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N