Origins and evolution of rhyolitic magmas in the central Snake River Plain: insights from coupled high-precision geochronology, oxygen isotope, and hafnium isotope analyses of zircon

  • Dylan P. Colón
  • Ilya N. Bindeman
  • Jörn-Frederik Wotzlaw
  • Eric H. Christiansen
  • Richard A. Stern
Original Paper


We present new high-precision CA-ID-TIMS and in situ U–Pb ages together with Hf and O isotopic analyses (analyses performed all on the same grains) from four tuffs from the 15−10 Ma Bruneau–Jarbidge center of the Snake River Plain and from three rhyolitic units from the Kimberly borehole in the neighboring 10−6 Ma Twin Falls volcanic center. We find significant intrasample diversity in zircon ages (ranges of up to 3 Myr) and in δ18O (ranges of up to 6‰) and εHf (ranges of up to 24 ε units) values. Zircon rims are also more homogeneous than the associated cores, and we show that zircon rim growth occurs faster than the resolution of in situ dating techniques. CA-ID-TIMS dating of a subset of zircon grains from the Twin Falls samples reveals complex crystallization histories spanning 104–106 years prior to some eruptions, suggesting that magma genesis was characterized by the cyclic remelting of buried volcanic rocks and intrusions associated with previous magmatic episodes. Age-dependent trends in zircon isotopic compositions show that rhyolite production in the Yellowstone hotspot track is driven by the mixing of mantle-derived melts (normal δ18O and εHf) and a combination of Precambrian basement rock (normal δ18O and εHf down to − 60) and shallow Mesozoic and Cenozoic age rocks, some of which are hydrothermally altered (to low δ18O values) by earlier stages of Snake River Plain magmatism. These crustal melts hybridize with juvenile basalts and rhyolites to produce the erupted rhyolites. We also observe that the Precambrian basement rock is only an important component in the erupted magmas in the first eruption at each caldera center, suggesting that the accumulation of new intrusions quickly builds an upper crustal intrusive body which is isolated from the Precambrian basement and evolves towards more isotopically juvenile and lower-δ18O compositions over time.


Snake river plain Zircon Rhyolite Geochronology Oxygen isotopes Hafnium isotopes 



We thank Bin Fu for making one of the zircon mounts, Andrew Kylander-Clark at the University of California-Santa Barbara for the LA-MC-ICP-MS analyses for this study, and Jim Palandri for his measurements of major phenocryst δ18O values at the University of Oregon. The Kimberly borehole was part of Project Hotspot, led by J. Shervais and funded by the US Department of Energy and the International Continental Drilling Program. Funding for this project was provided by the NSF grant EAR1447337, the University of Oregon Earth Science Department Staples Fellowship, and the ETH Zürich Postdoctoral Fellowship Program. We would finally like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive criticisms of this manuscript.

Supplementary material

410_2017_1437_MOESM1_ESM.docx (402 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 403 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dylan P. Colón
    • 1
  • Ilya N. Bindeman
    • 1
  • Jörn-Frederik Wotzlaw
    • 2
  • Eric H. Christiansen
    • 3
  • Richard A. Stern
    • 4
  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA
  2. 2.Department of Earth SciencesInstitute of Geochemistry and Petrology, ETH ZürichZurichSwitzerland
  3. 3.Brigham Young UniversityProvoUSA
  4. 4.University of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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