Columbia River Rhyolites: Age-Distribution Patterns and Their Implications for Arrival, Location, and Dispersion of Continental Flood Basalt Magmas in the Crust
Columbia River Rhyolites, Columbia River Basalt -- Eastern Oregon, Rhyolite flare-up, Continental flood basalt
Columbia River province magmatism is now known to include abundant and widespread rhyolite centers even though the view that the earliest rhyolites erupted from the McDermitt Caldera and other nearby volcanic fields along the Oregon–Nevada state border has persisted. Our study covers little-studied or unknown rhyolite occurrences in eastern Oregon that show a much wider distribution of older centers. With our new data on distribution of rhyolite centers and ages along with literature data, we consider rhyolites spanning from 17.5 to 14.5 Ma of eastern Oregon, northern Nevada, and western Idaho to be a direct response to flood basalts of the Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) and collectively categorize them as Columbia River Rhyolites. The age distribution patterns of Columbia River Rhyolites have implications for the arrival, location, and dispersion of flood basalt magmas in the crust. We consider the period from 17.5 to 16.4 Ma to be the waxing phase of rhyolite activity and the period from 15.3 to 14.5 Ma to be the waning phase. The largest number of centers was active between 16.3–15.4 Ma. The existence of crustal CRBG magma reservoirs beneath rhyolites seems inevitable, and hence, rhyolites suggest the following. The locations of centers of the waxing phase imply the arrival of CRBG magmas across the distribution area of rhyolites and are thought to correspond to the thermal pulses of arriving Picture Gorge Basalt and Picture-Gorge-Basalt-like magmas of the Imnaha Basalt in the north and to those of Steens Basalt magmas in the south. The earlier main rhyolite activity phase corresponds with Grande Ronde Basalt and evolved Picture Gorge Basalt and Steens Basalt. The later main phase rhyolite activity slightly postdated these basalts but is contemporaneous with icelanditic magmas that evolved from flood basalts. Similarly, centers of the waning phase span the area distribution of earlier phases and are similarly contemporaneous with icelanditic magmas and with other local basalts. These data have a number of implications for long-held notions about flood basalt migration through time and the age-progressive Snake River Plain Yellowstone rhyolite trend. There is no age progression in rhyolite activity from south-to-north, and this places doubt on the postulated south-to-north progression in basalt activity, at least for main-phase CRBG lavas. Furthermore, we suggest that age-progressive rhyolite activity of the Snake River Plain–Yellowstone trend starts at ~12 Ma with activity at the Bruneau Jarbidge center, and early centers along the Oregon–Nevada border, such as McDermitt, belong to the early to main phase rhyolites identified here.
Copyright: © 2023 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https:// creativecommons.org/licenses/by/ 4.0/).
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Streck, M.J.; Swenton, V.M.; McIntosh, W.; Ferns, M.L.; Heizler, M. Columbia River Rhyolites: Age- Distribution Patterns and Their Implications for Arrival, Location, and Dispersion of Continental Flood Basalt Magmas in the Crust. Geosciences 2023, 13, 46. https://doi.org/ 10.3390/geosciences13020046