The Mammoth Peak sheeted complex, Tuolumne batholith, Sierra Nevada, California: a record of initial growth or late thermal contraction in a magma chamber?

  • Jiří Žák
  • Scott R. Paterson
  • Vojtěch Janoušek
  • Petr Kabele
Original Paper


The Mammoth Peak sheeted intrusive complex formed in the interior of a ~7–10 km deep magma chamber, specifically in the Half Dome granodiorite of the Tuolumne batholith, central Sierra Nevada, CA (USA). The sheets consist of fractionated melts with accumulated hornblende, biotite, magnetite, titanite, apatite, and zircon. The accumulation, especially of titanite, had a profound effect on minor and trace elements (Nb, Ta, Ti, REE, U, Th, P, Zr, Hf, etc.), increasing their contents up to five to six times. Our thermal–mechanical modeling using the finite element method shows that cooling-generated tensile stresses resulted in the inward propagation of two perpendicular sets of dilational cracks in the host granodiorite. We interpret the sheeted complex to have formed by a crack-seal mechanism in a high strength, crystal-rich mush, whereby outward younging pulses of fractionated magma were injected into these syn-magmatic cracks at the margin of an active magma chamber. Thermal–mechanical instabilities developed after the assembly of the sheeted complex, which was then overprinted by late ~NW–SE magmatic foliation. This case example provides a cautionary note regarding the interpretation that sheeted zones in large granitoid plutons imply a diking mechanism of growth because the sheeted/dike complexes in plutons (1) may display inverse growth directions from the growth of the overall intrusive sequence; (2) need not record initial chamber construction and instead may reflect late pulsing of magma within an already constructed magma chamber; (3) have an overprinting magmatic fabric indicating the continued presence of melt after construction of sheeted complexes and thus a prolonged thermal history as compared to dikes; and (4) because the scale of the observed sheeted complexes may be small (<1%) in comparison to large homogenous parts of plutons, in which there is no evidence for sheeting or diking. Thus, where extensive dike complexes in plutons are absent, such as in much of the Tuolumne batholith, the application of an incremental diking model to explain chamber construction is at best speculative.


Emplacement Granite Incremental growth Magma chamber Pluton Thermal–mechanical modeling 



We thank the two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, which assisted in improving the original manuscript. This study was completed during the post-doctoral research of Jiří Žák, supported by the post-doctoral grant of the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic No. 205/07/P226. We also acknowledge the financial support from the Czech Academy of Sciences Grant No. KJB3111403 (to Jiří Žák), and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic Research Plans No. MSM0021620855 and No. MSM6840770003 (to Petr Kabele). Scott Paterson acknowledges support from NSF Grants EAR-0537892 and EAR-0073943. The short visit by Vojtěch Janoušek to the Division of Earth Sciences, University of Glasgow, Scotland (and the patience of Colin Braithwaite, in particular) made possible the acquisition of the CL photographs; Zdeněk Táborský (Czech Geological Survey, Prague) helped with petrographic studies. Last but not least, the Yosemite National Park Rangers are gratefully acknowledged for their constant support and interest in our work.

Supplementary material

410_2009_391_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (176 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 176 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiří Žák
    • 1
    • 2
  • Scott R. Paterson
    • 3
  • Vojtěch Janoušek
    • 2
    • 4
  • Petr Kabele
    • 5
  1. 1.Institute of Geology and Paleontology, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Czech Geological SurveyPragueCzech Republic
  3. 3.Department of Earth SciencesUniversity of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA
  4. 4.Institute of Petrology and Structural Geology, Faculty of ScienceCharles UniversityPragueCzech Republic
  5. 5.Department of Mechanics, Faculty of Civil EngineeringCzech Technical University in PraguePragueCzech Republic

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