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Zircon geochronology and geochemistry of Quaternary rhyolite domes of the Coso volcanic field, Inyo County, California

May 10, 2021

The Quaternary Coso volcanic field (CVF) is a compositionally bimodal volcanic field located within a releasing bend along the eastern range-front Sierra Nevada fault zone in California's southern Owens Valley. The erupted products of CVF silicic magmatism since ~1 Ma comprise 38 high-silica rhyolite domes, with the volumetric majority (~99%) of rhyolite emplaced within the past ~300 ka. The CVF hosts an economically important geothermal field driven by heat associated with a shallow (~5 km) igneous intrusion. The CVF is potentially an immature analog to the nearby Long Valley system, which culminated in generation and eruption of the voluminous and widespread Bishop Tuff. As such, the CVF represents a considerable volcanic hazard, making a detailed understanding of the eruptive history and pre-eruptive conditions of the system critically important. We present uranium-series isochron dates from zircon ± allanite crystal surfaces and zircon trace element geochemical data on the youngest 17 rhyolite domes at Coso, which represent ~60% (by volume) of the silicic magma erupted by the system. These data suggest: (1) a shorter emplacement duration than previously recognized for these domes, with a duration of 20 ± 5 ka; (2) 4 shorter-duration eruption pulses within this interval, all of which occur during the marine isotope stage (MIS) 5 interglacial period; (3) an uptick in the volume of CVF magma erupted between ~200 ka and ~ 78 ka relative to that emplaced over the lifetime of the system; (4) near-coeval eruption of geochemically distinct magma in close geographic proximity, either sourced from different portions of the same magma system at depth or from discrete, uncommunicating bodies; (5) ambiguity with respect to whether or not CVF magmatism is time-predictable, as previously suggested, or erupted as a series of punctuated episodes; (6) no rhyolite volcanism in the past ~78 kyr.

Publication Year 2021
Title Zircon geochronology and geochemistry of Quaternary rhyolite domes of the Coso volcanic field, Inyo County, California
DOI 10.1016/j.jvolgeores.2021.107276
Authors Seth D. Burgess, Matthew Coble, Jorge A. Vazquez
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research
Index ID 70227197
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Volcano Science Center