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Aeromagnetic mapping of the structure of Pine Canyon caldera and Chisos Mountains intrusion, Big Bend National Park, Texas

January 1, 2007

Analysis of aeromagnetic and gravity data reveals new details of the structure, igneous geology, and temporal evolution of the prominent, enigmatic ca.32 Ma Pine Canyon caldera and the Chisos Mountains (Big Bend National Park, Texas). The main caldera-filling Pine Canyon Rhyolite, the oldest member of the South Rim Formation, is reversely magnetized, allowing it to be used as a key marker bed for determining caldera fill thickness. Modeling of gravity and magnetic anomalies indicates that the Pine Canyon Rhyolite is probably thicker in the northeastern part of the caldera. Lineaments in the magnetic data suggest the presence of buried faults beneath the caldera that may have led to increased downdrop in the northeast versus the southwest, allowing a thicker section of caldera fill to accumulate there. The Pine Canyon caldera has been interpreted as a downsag caldera because it lacks surficial faulting, so these inferred faults are the first mapped features there that could be responsible for caldera collapse. The caldera boundary correlates well with the margins of a gravity low. General features of the caldera match well with basic models of downsag calderas, meaning that the Pine Canyon caldera may be a classic example of downsagging, of which few well-described examples exist, in terms of a geophysical signature. The source of a long-wavelength magnetic high over the Chisos Mountains is interpreted as a previously unknown broad intrusion, the long axis of which trends parallel to a major crustal boundary related to the Ouachita orogeny or an even earlier Precambrian margin. This feature represents the largest intrusion (28-34 km diameter, 1-4 km thick, 700-3000 km3 in volume) in an area where relatively small laccoliths are ubiquitous. The intrusion most likely represents a long-lived (>1 m.y.) reservoir replenished by small batches of magma of varying composition, as reflected in the variation of eruptive products from the Pine Canyon and Sierra Quemada calderas. The intrusion may represent the easternmost occurrence of voluminous Tertiary magmatism in the southwestern United States. ?? 2007 Geological Society of America.

Publication Year 2007
Title Aeromagnetic mapping of the structure of Pine Canyon caldera and Chisos Mountains intrusion, Big Bend National Park, Texas
DOI 10.1130/B26150.1
Authors B. J. Drenth, C. A. Finn
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geological Society of America Bulletin
Index ID 70031514
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse