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The Miocene Atastra Creek sinter (Bodie Hills volcanic field, California and Nevada): 4D evolution of a geomorphically intact siliceous hot spring deposit

January 15, 2019

The Atastra Creek siliceous hot spring deposit, or sinter, occurs in the Paramount-Bald Peak alteration zone, due north of the Bodie precious metals mining district in the Miocene Bodie Hills volcanic field, California and Nevada, U.S.A. Distinctive features include its geomorphically intact geyser vent mounds, the presence of growth-fault-stepped sinter terraces that developed westward along a NNW trending fault, and atypical Hg, Sb and As concentrations. High-temperature (>75 °C), subaerial, proximal apron sinter occurs in two settings – (1) radiating botryoidal geyserite in vent mounds and (2) bedded geyserite (columnar, nodular, size-sorted geyser eggs) intercalated with mid- to low-temperature (<60 °C), middle to distal apron terrace sinter. The active geyser vent mounds migrated from south to north across the apron terrace through time. A newly recognized, visually striking type of sinter – termed silica infiltrate herein – formed directly beneath the subaerial geyserite deposits. It is characterized by mainly parallel, thin, irregular beds of white silica with narrow borders of dark blue-gray silica, as well as swirly to globular white silica, all chaotically linked together by silica ‘necks’ and ‘bridges’. The silica infiltrate permeates the pre-existing sinter, and is interpreted to represent super-heated fluid injections into the immediately overlying geyser vent mounds and pools. The adjacent sinter sheets preserve fluid-flow directions of warm-water channels that traversed the discharge apron, including microbial streamer fabric and wavy laminated sinter with flattened bubbles. More distal sinter textures are recorded by rimmed terracettes with mammillated and palisade microbial fabrics and rare, warm pool-related stromatolites. However, plants are absent, probably due to the high metalloids, in particular As. Post-depositional events include an inferred hydrothermal eruption breccia and an interpreted drop in the water table accompanied by incursion of steam acid condensate, as evidenced by pervasive hydrothermal alteration of the Atastra Creek deposits. Hence, the well-exposed sedimentary facies distributions, well-preserved geomorphology, and stratigraphic and structural relationships together allow an unusually complete, paleoenvironmental reconstruction of the Atastra Creek paleohydrothermal deposit.

Publication Year 2019
Title The Miocene Atastra Creek sinter (Bodie Hills volcanic field, California and Nevada): 4D evolution of a geomorphically intact siliceous hot spring deposit
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2018.12.006
Authors Kathleen A. Campbell, Diego M. Guido, David John, Peter Vikre, David Rhys, Ayrton Hamilton
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70251807
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center