First Advisor

Martin Streck

Date of Publication

Summer 9-5-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology






Volcanic ash tuff etc -- Analysis, Geochemistry -- Oregon -- Malheur County, Petrology -- Oregon -- Malheur County, Volcanism -- Oregon -- Malheur County



Physical Description

1 online resource (viii, 217 pages)


The Dinner Creek Tuff is a mid-Miocene rhyolitic to dacitic ignimbrite, consisting of four cooling units with 40Ar/39Ar ages 16--15 Ma. Previous geologists have suspected that the source of the tuff is located in northwestern Malheur County, eastern Oregon. This broad area is called the Dinner Creek Tuff Eruptive Center.

This thesis summarizes field work, XRF/ICP-MS geochemistry, thin section petrography, and SEM feldspar analysis from the summers of 2015 and 2016. The main purpose of this study is to identify sources for the Dinner Creek Tuff units within the Dinner Creek Tuff Eruptive Center. The secondary purpose is to map lava flows that pre-date and post-date the Dinner Creek Tuff, and correlate them with regionally extensive volcanic units.

Two volcanic centers related to the Dinner Creek Tuff were identified. The southern volcanic center, centered at Castle Rock, is a caldera and source of the Dinner Creek Tuff unit 1 (DIT1). Rheomorphic, densely welded DIT1 is over 300 m thick along the east side of Castle Rock. The northwestern margin of the caldera has been uplifted along faults, showing vertically foliated tuff dikes and associated mega-breccia deposits. Up to 200 m of incipiently welded tuffs, and fluvial volcanoclastic sediments were deposited on the caldera floor, which has been uplifted due to resurgence and regional extension, creating the complex structural relationships between the volcanic units.

The northern volcanic center is located at Ironside Mountain, where densely welded rheomorphic Dinner Creek Tuff unit 2 (DIT2) is exposed in outcrops over 600 m thick. The top of the DIT2 consists of glassy, moderately welded tuff. Sources for the DIT2 are tuff dikes along the south and western flanks of Ironside Mountain. The thick deposits of DIT2 at Ironside Mountain indicate that the mountain is an uplifted caldera, herein named the Ironside Mountain caldera. Uplift may have been due to resurgence, but it is most likely due to normal faulting along the Border Fault, a major regional normal fault that strikes across the northern margin of the caldera.

Pre-Dinner Creek Tuff lava flows occur throughout the study area, and can be correlated with the Strawberry Volcanics and the Basalt of Malheur Gorge. A distinct lava flow, herein called the Ring Butte trachy-basalt occurs within the center of the study area, and is distinct from regional lava flows. Following the eruptions of the Dinner Creek Tuff units 1 & 2, aphyric basaltic-andesite and icelandite intrude into, and overlie the intra-caldera tuffs and caldera floor sediments at both calderas. These aphyric lavas are similar in appearance and stratigraphic position with the regionally extensive Hunter Creek basalt. Porphyritic olivine basalt overlies the aphyric Hunter Creek basalt at the Castle Rock caldera. This porphyritic lava is similar in appearance and major/trace element geochemistry to the regional Tim's Peak basalt.


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