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Mammoth Mountain and its mafic periphery—A late Quaternary volcanic field in eastern California

January 1, 2014

The trachydacite complex of Mammoth Mountain and an array of contemporaneous mafic volcanoes in its periphery together form a discrete late Pleistocene magmatic system that is thermally and compositionally independent of the adjacent subalkaline Long Valley system (California, USA). The Mammoth system first erupted ca. 230 ka, last erupted ca. 8 ka, and remains restless and potentially active. Magmas of the Mammoth system extruded through Mesozoic plutonic rocks of the Sierra Nevada batholith and extensive remnants of its prebatholith wall rocks. All of the many mafic and silicic vents of the Mammoth system are west or southwest of the structural boundary of Long Valley caldera; none is inboard of the caldera’s buried ring-fault zone, and only one Mammoth-related vent is within the zone. Mammoth Mountain has sometimes been called part of the Inyo volcanic chain, an ascription we regard inappropriate and misleading. The scattered vent array of the Mammoth system, 10 × 20 km wide, is unrelated to the range-front fault zone, and its broad nonlinear footprint ignores both Long Valley caldera and the younger Mono-Inyo range-front vent alignment. Moreover, the Mammoth Mountain dome complex (63%–71% SiO2; 8.0%–10.5% alkalies) ended its period of eruptive activity (100–50 ka) long before Holocene inception of Inyo volcanism. Here we describe 25 silicic eruptive units that built Mammoth Mountain and 37 peripheral units, which include 13 basalts, 15 mafic andesites, 6 andesites, and 3 dacites. Chemical data are appended for nearly 900 samples, as are paleomagnetic data for ∼150 sites drilled. The 40Ar/39Ar dates (230–16 ka) are given for most units, and all exposed units are younger than ca. 190 ka. Nearly all are mildly alkaline, in contrast to the voluminous subalkaline rhyolites of the contiguous long-lived Long Valley magma system. Glaciated remnants of Neogene mafic and trachydacitic lavas (9.1–2.6 Ma) are scattered near Mammoth Mountain, but Quaternary equivalents older than ca. 230 ka are absent. The wide area of late Quaternary Mammoth magmatism remained amagmatic during the long interval (2.2–0.3 Ma) of nearby Long Valley rhyolitic eruptions.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2014
Title Mammoth Mountain and its mafic periphery—A late Quaternary volcanic field in eastern California
DOI 10.1130/GES01053.1
Authors Wes Hildreth, Judith Fierstein, Duane E. Champion, Andrew T. Calvert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Geosphere
Index ID 70193629
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Hazards Program; Volcano Science Center