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Post-Early Miocene silicic volcanism in the northern Mojave Desert, California

April 1, 2022

Silicic volcanism that postdates widespread early Miocene volcanism in the Mojave Desert is underappreciated. We compiled age, petrographic, and geochemical data for volcanic rocks in a wide swath of the desert south of the Garlock fault using an age threshold of post-18.8 Ma, approximately the limit of the earlier Miocene volcanism as marked by the eruption of the widespread Peach Spring Tuff. In addition to the well-known young basaltic volcanic centers not considered in this paper, several dozen silicic volcanic edifices are known or likely to be younger than 18.8 Ma. Several examples of rhyolite tuffs and basalt lava in middle Miocene basin occur in sequences of the Barstow Formation and its correlatives. Dacite domes are common in the Calico Mountains, dated at ~17 Ma, and similar, but mostly undated, domes are scattered nearby in the Barstow area and east of the Calico Mountains. North of Barstow, chains of rhyolite domes and scattered dacite domes are known. A few of these domes and flows are dated in the range of 13-7 Ma. Farther north, the Lava Mountains have several volcanic sequences from 12 to 7 Ma and ranging in composition from basalt to rhyolite. Farther east and west are more rhyolite and dacite domes, in general undated, as well as the extensive ~17.8 Ma Woods Mountains rhyolite center. Sparse geochemical data for the silicic rocks indicate distinct rhyolite and dacite groups, and rare andesite. Understanding of these potentially young silicic volcanic rocks is hampered by poor age control and geochemical data, but more study holds promise for better understanding the origins of volcanism in the Mojave Desert.

Publication Year 2022
Title Post-Early Miocene silicic volcanism in the northern Mojave Desert, California
Authors David M. Miller, Phillip B Gans, Tracey J. Felger, Jorge A. Vazquez
Publication Type Conference Paper
Publication Subtype Conference Paper
Index ID 70230431
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geology, Minerals, Energy, and Geophysics Science Center