Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology

, Volume 166, Issue 2, pp 587–613 | Cite as

Magma mixing and the generation of isotopically juvenile silicic magma at Yellowstone caldera inferred from coupling 238U–230Th ages with trace elements and Hf and O isotopes in zircon and Pb isotopes in sanidine

  • Mark E. Stelten
  • Kari M. Cooper
  • Jorge A. Vazquez
  • Mary R. Reid
  • Gry H. Barfod
  • Josh Wimpenny
  • Qing-zhu Yin
Original Paper


The nature of compositional heterogeneity within large silicic magma bodies has important implications for how silicic reservoirs are assembled and evolve through time. We examine compositional heterogeneity in the youngest (~170 to 70 ka) post-caldera volcanism at Yellowstone caldera, the Central Plateau Member (CPM) rhyolites, as a case study. We compare 238U–230Th age, trace-element, and Hf isotopic data from zircons, and major-element, Ba, and Pb isotopic data from sanidines hosted in two CPM rhyolites (Hayden Valley and Solfatara Plateau flows) and one extracaldera rhyolite (Gibbon River flow), all of which erupted near the caldera margin ca. 100 ka. The Hayden Valley flow hosts two zircon populations and one sanidine population that are consistent with residence in the CPM reservoir. The Gibbon River flow hosts one zircon population that is compositionally distinct from Hayden Valley flow zircons. The Solfatara Plateau flow contains multiple sanidine populations and all three zircon populations found in the Hayden Valley and Gibbon River flows, demonstrating that the Solfatara Plateau flow formed by mixing extracaldera magma with the margin of the CPM reservoir. This process highlights the dynamic nature of magmatic interactions at the margins of large silicic reservoirs. More generally, Hf isotopic data from the CPM zircons provide the first direct evidence for isotopically juvenile magmas contributing mass to the youngest post-caldera magmatic system and demonstrate that the sources contributing magma to the CPM reservoir were heterogeneous in 176Hf/177Hf at ca. 100 ka. Thus, the limited compositional variability of CPM glasses reflects homogenization occurring within the CPM reservoir, not a homogeneous source.


Yellowstone Mixing Zircon Sanidine 238U–230Th Hf isotope 

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark E. Stelten
    • 1
  • Kari M. Cooper
    • 1
  • Jorge A. Vazquez
    • 2
  • Mary R. Reid
    • 3
  • Gry H. Barfod
    • 1
  • Josh Wimpenny
    • 1
  • Qing-zhu Yin
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeologyUniversity of California, DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological SurveyMenlo ParkUSA
  3. 3.School of Earth Sciences and Environmental SustainabilityNorthern Arizona UniversityFlagstaffUSA

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