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Oligocene basaltic volcanism of the northern Rio Grande Rift: San Luis Hills, Colorado

January 1, 1991

The inception of the Rio Grande rift in northern New Mexico and southern Colorado was accompanied by voluminous mafic volcanism preserved in part as erosional remnants on an intrarift horst within the current axial rift graben of the San Luis Valley. Oligocene (∼26 Ma) volcanic rocks of the Hinsdale Formation at San Luis Hills range from 49 to 57 wt % SiO2 and include nepheline and hypersthene normative lavas. A mildly alkalic series consisting of trachybasalt, basaltic trachyandesite, and trachyandesite is volumetrically dominant, olivine tholeiites are subordinate, and xenocrystic trachyandesites containing abundant quartz and plagioclase xenocrysts occur only locally. Relative to the San Luis Hills olivine tholeiites which have La/Smn ∼ 2, the more alkaline series are enriched in light rare earth elements (LREE) and have La/Sm ratios that increase in the trachybasalt-basaltic trachyandesite suite (La/Smn ∼ 3) to xenocrystic trachyandesites that are the most LREE enriched (La/Smn ∼ 4). Chondrite-normalized, trace element patterns for the lavas in the San Luis Hills are similar in shape within the mildly alkaline to transitional series; they have characteristic Nb and Ta depletions and high K and Th relative to Ta, Nb, and LREE. Major and trace element constraints support a petrogenetic model of fractionation plus lower crustal assimilation for petrologic suites within the San Luis Hills rocks, although the model cannot relate lavas for the entire series to a common parent. Most mafic lavas of the San Luis Hills were evolved (Mg # <60) and contaminated by LREE-enriched silicic partial melts of granulitic lower crust depleted in Rb, Th, and U. Pb isotopes are the most sensitive indicators of crustal contamination, whereas shifts in Nd and Sr isotope ratios are associated with large amounts of assimilation. However, relatively noncontaminated lavas can be identified and indicate at least two mantle source regions were involved.

Publication Year 1991
Title Oligocene basaltic volcanism of the northern Rio Grande Rift: San Luis Hills, Colorado
DOI 10.1029/91JB00068
Authors R. A. Thompson, C.M. Johnson, H. H. Mehnert
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Geophysical Research
Index ID 70016412
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse