Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 166, Issue 3, pp 755–775

The Bishop Tuff giant magma body: an alternative to the Standard Model

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s00410-013-0901-6

Cite this article as:
Gualda, G.A.R. & Ghiorso, M.S. Contrib Mineral Petrol (2013) 166: 755. doi:10.1007/s00410-013-0901-6


The Bishop Tuff, one of the most extensively studied high-silica rhyolite bodies in the world, is usually considered as the archetypical example of a deposit formed from a magma body characterized by thermal and compositional vertical stratification—what we call the Standard Model for the Bishop magma body. We present here new geothermometry and geobarometry results derived using a large database of previously published quartz-hosted glass inclusion compositions. Assuming equilibrium between melt and an assemblage composed of quartz, ±plagioclase, ±sanidine, +zircon, ±fluid, we use Zr contents in glass inclusions to derive quartz crystallization temperatures, and we use (1) silica contents in glass, (2) projection of glass compositions onto the haplogranitic (quartz-albite-orthoclase) ternary, and (3) phase equilibria calculations using rhyolite-MELTS, to constrain crystallization pressures. We find crystallization temperatures of ~740–750 °C for all inclusions from both early- and late-erupted pumice. Crystallization pressures for both early- and late-erupted inclusions are also very similar to each other, with averages of ~175–200 MPa. We find no evidence of late-erupted inclusions having been entrapped at higher temperatures or pressures than early-erupted inclusions, as would be expected by the Standard Model. We argue that the thermal gradient inferred from Fe–Ti oxides—the backbone of the Standard Model—does not reflect equilibrium pre-eruptive conditions; we also note that H2O–CO2 systematics of glass inclusions yields overlapping pressure ranges for early- and late-erupted inclusions, similar to the results presented here; and we show that glass inclusion and phenocryst compositions show bimodal distributions, suggestive of compositional separation between early- and late-erupted populations. These findings are inconsistent with the Standard Model. The similarity in crystallization conditions and the compositional separation between early- and late-erupted magmas suggest that two laterally juxtaposed independent magma reservoirs existed in the same region at the same time and co-erupted to form the Long Valley Caldera and the Bishop Tuff. This hypothesis would explain the lack of mixing between early- and late-erupted crystal populations in pumice clasts; it could also explain the inferred eruption pattern—which resulted in early-erupted magmas being deposited only to the south of the caldera—if the early-erupted magma body resided to the south and the late-erupted magma body was located to the north. Our alternative model is consistent with the patchy distribution of thermal anomalies and the inference of co-eruption of distinct magma types in active volcanic areas such as the central Taupo Volcanic Zone.


Bishop Tuff High-silica rhyolite Magma body zonation 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Earth & Environmental SciencesVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.OFM Research-WestSeattleUSA