The generation of a diverse suite of Late Pleistocene and Holocene basalt through dacite lavas from the northern Cascade arc at Mount Baker, Washington

Abstract

Mt. Baker is a dominantly andesitic stratovolcano in the northern Cascade arc. In this study, we show that the andesites are not all derived from similar sources, and that open-system processes were dominant during their petrogenesis. To this end, we discuss petrographic observations, mineral chemistry, and whole rock major and trace element chemistry for three of Mt. Baker’s late Pleistocene to Holocene lava flow units. These include the basalt and basaltic andesite of Sulphur Creek (SC) (51.4–55.8 wt% SiO2, Mg# 57–58), the Mg-rich andesite of Glacier Creek (GC) (58.3–58.7 wt% SiO2, Mg# 63–64), and the andesite and dacite of Boulder Glacier (BG) (60.2–64.2 wt% SiO2, Mg# 50–57). Phenocryst populations in all units display varying degrees of reaction and disequilibrium textures along with complicated zoning patterns indicative of open-system processes. All lavas are medium-K and calc-alkaline, but each unit displays distinctive trace element and REE characteristics that do not correlate with the average SiO2 content of the unit. The mafic lavas of SC have relatively elevated REE abundances with the lowest (La/Yb)N (~4.5). The intermediate GC andesites (Mg- and Ni-rich) have the lowest REE abundances and the highest (La/Yb)N (~6.7) with strongly depleted HREE. The more felsic BG lavas have intermediate REE abundances and (La/Yb)N (~6.4). The high-Mg character of the GC andesites can be explained by addition of 4% of a xenocrystic olivine component. However, their depleted REE patterns are similar to other high-Mg andesites reported from Mt. Baker and require a distinct mantle source. The two dominantly andesitic units (GC and BG) are different enough from each other that they could not have been derived from the same parent basalt. Nor could either of them have been derived from the SC basalt by crystal fractionation processes. Crystal fractionation also cannot explain the compositional diversity within each unit. Compositional diversity within the SC unit (basalt to basaltic andesite) can, however, be successfully modeled by mixing of basalt with compositions similar to the dacites in the BG unit. Given that the BG dacites erupted at ~80–90 ka, and a similar composition was mixed with the SC lavas at 9.8 ka, the process that produced this felsic end-member must have been repeatedly active for at least 70 ka.

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Acknowledgments

Funding for this project was provided by the Cascade Volcano Observatory through the Jack Kleinman Internship for Volcano Research, Sigma Xi’s Grants in Aid of Research program, the Western Washington University Geology Department and the Funds for the Enhancement of Graduate Research provided by the Western Washington University Research and Sponsored Programs department. Analytical work for this study was made possible with the assistance from George Mustoe, Scott Kuehner, Diane Johnson and Charles Knaack. This manuscript was significantly improved by reviews from Pete Stelling, Scott Linneman, Michael Dungan and Charles Bacon.

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Correspondence to Troy David Baggerman.

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Communicated by T. L. Grove.

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Baggerman, T.D., DeBari, S.M. The generation of a diverse suite of Late Pleistocene and Holocene basalt through dacite lavas from the northern Cascade arc at Mount Baker, Washington. Contrib Mineral Petrol 161, 75–99 (2011). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00410-010-0522-2

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Keywords

  • Cascade Arc
  • Mount. Baker
  • REE
  • Geochemistry
  • Petrology
  • Andesite
  • Mixing
  • Fractionation