Portland State University. Department of Geology
Martin J. Streck
Date of Award
Master of Science (M.S.) in Geology
1 online resource (ix, 151 pages)
The Wildcat Creek Tuff is a thin (~3-12 m), rhyolite to andesitic ash-flow tuff with a minimal extent of 1500 km2 in Malheur county, eastern Oregon. The previously undated tuff yielded a single crystal, anorthoclase 40Ar/39Ar age of 15.49±0.02 Ma and thus is closely related to mafic and silicic volcanism of the Columbia River Province. The tuff texturally stands out by its high proportion of co-mingled mafic inclusions appearing as dark, scoriaceous, and phenocryst-poor fragments, and their proportion dictate bulk tuff compositions ranging from rhyolite (74% SiO2) to andesite (59% SiO2). Glass analyses confirm rhyolite end member at 74-75 wt.% SiO2 and two mafic members, one at 59-60 wt.% SiO2 and the other at 56-57 wt.% SiO2. Rare plagioclase and even rarer pyroxene phenocrysts with compositions clustering at An60-74 and An35-45, and Mg17-19 and Mg80-84, respectively, similarly suggest two andesitic magmas with the 60% member being the dominant mafic composition. It has distinctly lower TiO2 and CaO, slightly lower FeO, and comparable Al2O3, MgO, and alkalis.
Eruption of crystal-poor dacitic to basaltic-andesitic cognate components is also observed in other Miocene ash-flow tuffs from eastern Oregon, like the Rattlesnake, Dinner Creek, and the Devine Canyon Tuffs, as well as other less voluminous tuffs. However, the high proportion of mafic components in the Wildcat Creek tuff seems currently unrivaled. The co-eruption of intermediate magmas with rhyolite implies that mafic magmas were tapped from a common reservoir, and these magmas increased in proportion during the course of the eruption(s). This continued up to the point where nearly all deposited tuff material consisted of andesite. This is consistent with progressively deeper magma withdrawal, in turn implying that mafic magmas resided below the rhyolites as a discrete magma batch. Dacitic components of voluminous rhyolitic tuffs have been recently interpreted as remelted samples of a crystal mush after crystal-poor rhyolites where extracted. Dacitic Wildcat Creek Tuff samples do not bear any evidence of this. To the contrary, small negative Eu anomalies, normal Ba and Sr concentrations, and nearly aphyric nature are consistent with a large portion of mixing between Wildcat Creek Tuff rhyolites and regional mid Miocene, Fe-rich, and crystal poor basaltic andesite magmas that occur ubiquitously as lava flows.
Sales, Hillarie Jaye, "The Wildcat Creek Tuff, Eastern Oregon: Co-eruption of Crystal-poor Rhyolite and Fe-rich Andesite with Implication for Mafic Underpinnings to Voluminous A-type Rhyolites" (2018). Dissertations and Theses. Paper 4352.