Simultaneous Middle Pleistocene eruption of three widespread tholeiitic basalts in northern California (USA): Insights into crustal magma transport in an actively extending back arc

Geology
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Abstract

Mapping and chronology are central to understanding spatiotemporal volcanic trends in diverse tectonic settings. The Cascades back arc in northern California (USA) hosts abundant lava flows and normal faults, but tholeiitic basalts older than 200 ka are difficult to discriminate by classic mapping methods. Paleomagnetism and chemistry offer independent means of correlating basalts, including the Tennant, Dry Lake, and Hammond Crossing basalt fields. Paleomagnetic analysis of these chemically similar basalts yield notable overlap, with statistical analysis yielding 7 chances in 1,000,000 that their similar mean remanent directions are random. These basalts also have overlapping 40Ar/39Ar ages of 272.5 ± 30.6 ka (Tennant),  305.8 ± 23.9 ka (Dry Lake), and 300.4 ± 15.2 and 322.6 ± 17.4 ka (Hammond Crossing). Chemical and paleomagnetic analyses indicate that these spatially distributed basalts represent simultaneous (<100 yr uncertainty) eruptions, and thus we use 305.5 ± 9.8 ka (weighted mean) as the eruption age. Their vents align on a N25°W trend over a distance of 39 km. Tennant erupted the largest volume (3.55 ± 0.75 km3) at the highest elevation; both factors decay to the south-southeast at Dry Lake (0.75 ± 0.15 km3) and Hammond Crossing (0.15 ± 0.05 km3). We propose vertical magma ascent beneath the Tennant vent area, where the most evolved, high-SiO2 magma erupted, with lateral dike propagation in the brittle crust. Propagation was near orthogonal to east-west extension (0.3–0.6 mm/yr) along northnorthwest–trending normal faults.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Simultaneous Middle Pleistocene eruption of three widespread tholeiitic basalts in northern California (USA): Insights into crustal magma transport in an actively extending back arc
Series title Geology
DOI 10.1130/G48076.1
Edition Online First
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Geological Society of America
Contributing office(s) Volcano Science Center
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Northern California
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