Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 147, Issue 3, pp 243–275 | Cite as

Rear-arc vs. arc-front volcanoes in the Katmai reach of the Alaska Peninsula: a critical appraisal of across-arc compositional variation

  • Wes HildrethEmail author
  • Judy Fierstein
  • David F. Siems
  • James R. Budahn
  • Joaquin Ruíz
Original Paper


Physical and compositional data and K-Ar ages are reported for 14 rear-arc volcanoes that lie 11–22 km behind the narrowly linear volcanic front defined by the Mount Katmai-to-Devils Desk chain on the Alaska Peninsula. One is a 30-km3 stratocone (Mount Griggs; 51–63% SiO2) active intermittently from 292 ka to Holocene. The others are monogenetic cones, domes, lava flows, plugs, and maars, of which 12 were previously unnamed and unstudied; they include seven basalts (48–52% SiO2), four mafic andesites (53–55% SiO2), and three andesite-dacite units. Six erupted in the interval 500–88 ka, one historically in 1977, and five in the interval 3–2 Ma. No migration of the volcanic front is discernible since the late Miocene, so even the older units erupted well behind the front. Discussion explores the significance of the volcanic front and the processes that influence compositional overlaps and differences among mafic products of the rear-arc volcanoes and of the several arc-front edifices nearby. The latter have together erupted a magma volume of about 200 km3, at least four times that of all rear-arc products combined. Correlation of Sr-isotope ratios with indices of fractionation indicates crustal contributions in volcanic-front magmas (0.7033–0.7038), but lack of such trends among the rear-arc units (0.70298–0.70356) suggests weaker and less systematic crustal influence. Slab contributions and mantle partial-melt fractions both appear to decline behind the front, but neither trend is crisp and unambiguous. No intraplate mantle contribution is recognized nor is any systematic across-arc difference in intrinsic mantle-wedge source fertility discerned. Both rear-arc and arc-front basalts apparently issued from fluxing of typically fertile NMORB-source mantle beneath the Peninsular terrane, which docked here in the Mesozoic.


Mantle Wedge Mafic Rock Mantle Melting Volcanic Front Monogenetic Volcano 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We are grateful for thoughtful reviews by Charlie Bacon, Mike Clynne, Rhiannon George, and Paul Wallace. Fieldwork was supported by the Alaska Volcano Observatory. Helicopter pilots Paul Walters, Bill Springer, Rick Farrish, Jim Sink, and Sam Egli got us to these volcanoes—as remote as their own magma sources and commonly as murky—and they brought us back alive, though we were often pale-green, depleted, and as wobbly as models of arc magmatism.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary Material (PDF 450 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wes Hildreth
    • 1
    Email author
  • Judy Fierstein
    • 1
  • David F. Siems
    • 2
  • James R. Budahn
    • 2
  • Joaquin Ruíz
    • 3
  1. 1.Volcano Hazards TeamU.S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyDenverUSA
  3. 3.Department of GeosciencesUniversity of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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