Bulletin of Volcanology

, 75:745

Rhyolitic volcanism of the central Snake River Plain: a review

  • B. S. Ellis
  • J. A. Wolff
  • S. Boroughs
  • D. F. Mark
  • W. A. Starkel
  • B. Bonnichsen
Review Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00445-013-0745-y

Cite this article as:
Ellis, B.S., Wolff, J.A., Boroughs, S. et al. Bull Volcanol (2013) 75: 745. doi:10.1007/s00445-013-0745-y

Abstract

The central Snake River Plain (CSRP) of southern Idaho and northern Nevada, USA, forms part of the Columbia River–Yellowstone large igneous province. Volcanic rocks of the province are compositionally bimodal (basalt–rhyolite), and the rhyolites produce a broadly time-transgressive record of a hotspot which is currently located under Yellowstone. Snake River Plain rhyolites represent hot (>850 °C), dry magmas and have field characteristics consistent with high emplacement temperatures. Individual ignimbrite sheets reach 1,000 km3 and exhibit little to no compositional zonation on a large scale but reveal considerable complexity on a crystal scale, particularly with regard to pyroxene compositions. Multiple pyroxene compositions may exist in a single ignimbrite which, along with multiple glass compositions in widely dispersed fallout tephra, suggests complex storage of rhyolite prior to eruption. Unlike most igneous rocks, the mineral cargo of the CSRP rhyolites exhibits little isotopic variability, with unimodal 87Sr/86Sr values returned from plagioclase grains inferred to represent the combination of strong crystal–melt coupling and rapid diffusional re-equilibriation. All the rhyolites within the CSRP have a characteristic low-δ18O signature; with >20,000 km3 of rhyolite exhibiting this depletion, the CSRP represents the largest low-δ18O province on Earth. The low-18O nature of the rhyolites requires assimilation of hydrothermally altered materials which may be from altered Eocene batholithic rocks or from down-dropped intra-caldera tuffs. The wide range of crustal assimilants, with highly variable radiogenic isotope characteristics, available in the CSRP is permissive of a variety of petrogenetic models based on radiogenic isotopic data.

Keywords

Snake River Plain Rhyolite Bimodal Ignimbrite Low δ18

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. S. Ellis
    • 1
  • J. A. Wolff
    • 2
  • S. Boroughs
    • 2
  • D. F. Mark
    • 3
  • W. A. Starkel
    • 2
  • B. Bonnichsen
    • 4
  1. 1.Institute for Geochemistry and PetrologyZurichSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of the Environment, Washington State UniversityPullmanUSA
  3. 3.NERC Argon Isotope FacilityScottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)ScotlandUK
  4. 4.MoscowUSA