Journal Article

Magma Evolution and Ascent at the Craters of the Moon and Neighboring Volcanic Fields, Southern Idaho, USA: Implications for the Evolution of Polygenetic and Monogenetic Volcanic Fields

Keith D. Putirka, Mel A. Kuntz, Daniel M. Unruh and Nitin Vaid

in Journal of Petrology

Volume 50, issue 9, pages 1639-1665
Published in print September 2009 | ISSN: 0022-3530
Published online July 2009 | e-ISSN: 1460-2415 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/petrology/egp045
Magma Evolution and Ascent at the Craters of the Moon and Neighboring Volcanic Fields, Southern Idaho, USA: Implications for the Evolution of Polygenetic and Monogenetic Volcanic Fields

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The evolution of polygenetic and monogenetic volcanic fields must reflect differences in magma processing during ascent. To assess their evolution we use thermobarometry and geochemistry to evaluate ascent paths for neighboring, nearly coeval volcanic fields in the Snake River Plain, in south–central Idaho, derived from (1) dominantly Holocene polygenetic evolved lavas from the Craters of the Moon lava field (COME) and (2) Quaternary non-evolved, olivine tholeiites (NEOT) from nearby monogenetic volcanic fields. These data show that NEOT have high magmatic temperatures (1205 ± 27°C) and a narrow temperature range (< 25°C) at any given depth; NEOT parent magmas partially crystallize within the middle crust (14–17 km), but with little time for cooling or assimilation. In contrast, COME magmas partially crystallize at similar depths, but at any given depth exhibit lower temperatures (by ∼40°C), and wider temperature ranges (>50°C). Prolonged storage of COME magmas allows them to evolve to higher 87Sr/86Sr and SiO2, and lower MgO and 143Nd/144Nd. Most importantly, ascent paths control evolution: NEOT often erupt near the axis of the plain where high-flux (Yellowstone-related), pre-Holocene magmatic activity replaces granitic middle crust with basaltic sills, resulting in a net increase in NEOT magma buoyancy. COME flows erupt off-axis, where felsic crustal lithologies sometimes remain intact, providing a barrier to ascent and a source for crustal contamination. A three-stage ascent process explains the entire range of erupted compositions. Stage 1 (40–20 km): picrites are transported to the middle crust, undergoing partial crystallization of olivine ± clinopyroxene. COME magmas pass through unarmored conduits and assimilate 1% or less of ancient gabbroic crust having high Sr and 87Sr/86Sr and low SiO2. Stage 2 (20–10 km): magmas are stored within the middle crust, and evolve to moderate MgO (10%). NEOT magmas, reaching 10% MgO, are positively buoyant and migrate through the middle crust. COME magmas remain negatively buoyant and so crystallize further and assimilate middle crust. Stage 3 (15–0 km): final ascent and eruption occurs when volatile contents, increased by differentiation, are sufficient (1–2 wt % H2O) to provide magma buoyancy through the middle (and upper) crust.

Keywords: Craters of the Moon; Snake River Plain; geothermometry; geobarometry; geochemistry; assimilation; crustal contamination; feldspar; clinopyroxene; mineral chemistry

Journal Article.  15646 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Petrology

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