First Advisor

Martin J. Streck

Date of Publication

Fall 12-9-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Isotopes -- Analysis, Rhyolite -- Eastern Oregon, Stratigraphic Geology -- Miocene, Volcanology -- Eastern Oregon



Physical Description

1 online resource (xiii, 102 pages)


Widespread, mid-Miocene rhyolite volcanism of eastern Oregon that are coeval or slightly postdate flood basalts of the Columbia River Basalt Province allows for mapping crustal domains using radiogenic and stable isotopes. Rhyolites are thought to be derived in large part by partial melting of the crust and thus yield direct information on the composition of the crust. Silicic volcanism is expressed in the form of numerous domes and tuffs exposed over a wide area (~300 km in N-S dimension and ~200 km in E-W dimension) west of the presumed craton boundary, which runs parallel but mostly east of the Oregon-Idaho state border as delineated by geophysical characteristics and isotopic transitions, including the 87Sr/86Sri = 0.7060 line (MSL) and 87Sr/86Sri = 0.7040 (CSL).

87Sr/86Sri of twenty-seven silicic units are variable and some are high. Sr isotopic ratios are inconsistent with the location of the traditional MSL and CSL boundaries. A primary control on the 87Sr/86Sri isotope variations may reflect changes in the crustal make-up of Paleozoic accreted terranes of a particular area rather than arising from a westward-dipping decollement that moved cratonic lithosphere below accreted terranes in eastern Oregon. A secondary control on observed isotopic ratios may be related to the amount and composition of basalt involved in the generation of rhyolites. This could lead to higher or lower 87Sr/86Sri relative to the surrounding crust because de facto coeval mafic magmas of the Columbia River Basalt Group have a wide range of Sr isotopic signatures.

While Pb isotope data is incomplete for all samples of this study, the available data indicate a significant range in Pb isotopes. Yet, data of individual regions tend to plot close to one another relative to the entire data distribution. Comparison of samples from this study in a more regional view indicates the samples generally fall within the previously defined lead isotope boundaries of the main-phase Columbia River Basalt Group lavas.

[lowercase delta]¹⁸O values range from below 2 parts per thousand to above 9 parts per thousand. In addition, there is a crude trend of rhyolites having lower [lowercase delta]¹⁸O and more radiogenic ⁸⁷Sr/⁸⁶Sr[subscript i] ratios. The lowest oxygen ratios (< 2 parts per thousand) are found in rhyolites ~80 km west of the cratonic margin, potentially reflecting remelting or assimilation of hydrothermally altered crust. Low [lowercase delta]¹⁸O of selected rhyolite flows cannot be explained by remelting of Cretaceous plutons of the Idaho Batholith and appear irreconcilable with remelting of altered silicic rocks at centers of multiple, confocal caldera cycles- both processes that have been proposed to explain low [lowercase delta]¹⁸O of rhyolites of the Snake River Plain-Yellowstone area.


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