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Flood Basalt -- Geology


The Miocene Columbia River Basalt Group (CRBG) of the Pacific Northwest of the United States is the world’s youngest and smallest large igneous province. Its earliest formations are the Imnaha, Steens, and now the Picture Gorge Basalt (PGB), and they were sourced from three different dike swarms exposed from SE Washington to Nevada to northcentral Oregon. PGB is often viewed to be distinct from the other formations, as its magmas are sourced from a shallow, relatively depleted, and later subduction-induced metasomatized mantle, along with its young stratigraphic position. It has long been known that the lowermost American Bar flows (AB1&2) of the Imnaha Basalt are chemically similar to those of the PGB, yet the Imnaha Basalt is generally thought to carry the strongest plume source component. These opposing aspects motivated us to revisit the compositional relationships between AB1&2 and PGB. Our findings suggest that tapping a shallow, variably depleted, and metasomatized mantle reservoir to produce earliest CRBG lavas occurred across the province, now pinpointed to ~17 Ma. Moreover, compositional provinciality exists indicating regional differences in degree of depletion and subduction overprint that is preserved by regionally distributed lavas, which in turn implies relatively local lava emplacement at this stage.


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