The Organ Mountains caldera and batholith expose the volcanic and epizonal plutonic record of an Eocene caldera complex. The caldera and batholith are well exposed, and extensive previous mapping and geochemical analyses have suggested a clear link between the volcanic and plutonic sections, making this an ideal location to study magmatic processes associated with caldera volcanism. Here we present high-precision thermal ionization mass spectrometry U–Pb zircon dates from throughout the caldera and batholith, and use these dates to test and improve existing petrogenetic models. The new dates indicate that Eocene volcanic and plutonic rocks in the Organ Mountains formed from ~44 to 34 Ma. The three largest caldera-related tuff units yielded weighted mean 206Pb/238U dates of 36.441 ± 0.020 Ma (Cueva Tuff), 36.259 ± 0.016 Ma (Achenback Park tuff), and 36.215 ± 0.016 Ma (Squaw Mountain tuff). An alkali feldspar granite, which is chemically similar to the erupted tuffs, yielded a synchronous weighted mean 206Pb/238U date of 36.259 ± 0.021 Ma. Weighted mean 206Pb/238U dates from the larger volume syenitic phase of the underlying Organ Needle pluton range from 36.130 ± 0.031 to 36.071 ± 0.012 Ma, and the youngest sample is 144 ± 20 to 188 ± 20 ka younger than the Squaw Mountain and Achenback Park tuffs, respectively. Younger plutonism in the batholith continued through at least 34.051 ± 0.029 Ma. We propose that the Achenback Park tuff, Squaw Mountain tuff, alkali feldspar granite and Organ Needle pluton formed from a single, long-lived magma chamber/mush zone. Early silicic magmas generated by partial melting of the lower crust rose to form an epizonal magma chamber. Underplating of the resulting mush zone led to partial melting and generation of a high-silica alkali feldspar granite cap, which erupted to form the tuffs. The deeper parts of the chamber underwent continued recharge and crystallization for 144 ± 20 ka after the final eruption. Calculated magmatic fluxes for the Organ Needle pluton range from 0.0006 to 0.0030 km3/year, in agreement with estimates from other well-studied plutons. The petrogenetic evolution proposed here may be common to many small-volume silicic volcanic systems.
- Digital Object Identifier: 10.1007/s00410-015-1208-6
- Source: USGS Publications Warehouse (indexId: 70168437)