Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 53, Issue 1, pp 45–59 | Cite as

Flow directions in ash-flow tuffs: a comparison of geological and magnetic susceptibility measurements, Tshirege member (upper Bandelier Tuff), Valles caldera, New Mexico, USA

  • W D MacDonadl
  • H C Palmer


This study concludes that the elongation axis (K1) of the ellipsoid of anisotropic magnetic susceptibility (AMS) is a suitable proxy for flow axis in ashflow tuffs. 153 oriented samples (176 specimens) were studied from 18 sites in the 1.1 Ma Tshirege member of the Bandelier Tuff. These sites are distributed around the Valles caldera at distances of 5–25 km outside of the rim.K1 axes correlate well with postulated radial flow axes at 13 sites.K1 also agrees with measured geological flow indicators, mainly imbricated larger clasts, at 7 sites. At 2 of the 5 sites where significant disagreement is seen between theoretical radial flow directions and measuredK1 axes, theK1 axes correspond well with geological flow indicators, indicating that the divergence of flow from the predicted radial flow pattern is real. Two major topographic buttresses are suggested as the cause of flow divergence for the Tshirege ash flows: the San Pedro buttress northwest of the caldera, and the San Miguel buttress in the southeast. In situK1 axes plunge about 7° toward the source at two-thirds of the sites; therefore the plunge ofK1 is a plausible in situ indicator for thedirection of flow. Multiple flow zones in sections of several meters thickness indicate changes of flow direction that are both rapid and large during ash-flow emplacement. These observations raisre the question of how best to represent ‘mean’ flow directions in ash-flow sheets: by eigenvector methods, by vector-sum methods, or by modes. A method for measuring imbrication of larger clasts using apparent dips in vertical joints is outlined. Imbrication, determined in this way at one-third of the sites, dips toward the source, i.e., up-flow. The minimum (K3) axis of the AMS ellipsoid correlates with the flow foliation rather than with the larger clast imbrication. The flow axes of ash flows correspond with theK1 axes, not with the declination ofK3 axes as suggested by some authors. Initial dip of the sampled ash flows is not large and does not affect the paleomagnetic remanence direction, which is reversed with a mean ofD=173.5°,I=-38.4°, α95=3.4°N=18. This mean is not different at the 95% confidence level from that of earlier workers. The mean pole, at 098.0°E, 74.8°N,A95=3.3°,N=18, is about 15° far-sided relative to the expected time-averaged geomagnetic pole, suggesting a history of emplacement too short to adequately average secular variation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • W D MacDonadl
    • 1
  • H C Palmer
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Geological SciencesState University of New YorkBinghamtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of GeophysicsThe University of Western OntarioLondonCanada

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