Building zoned ignimbrites by recycling silicic cumulates: Insight from the 1,000 km < sup> 3 Carpenter Ridge Tuff, CO

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Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


The ~1,000 km3 Carpenter Ridge Tuff (CRT), erupted at 27.55 Ma during the mid-tertiary ignimbrite flare-up in the western USA, is among the largest known strongly zoned ash-flow tuffs. It consists primarily of densely welded crystal-poor rhyolite with a pronounced, highly evolved chemical signature (high Rb/Sr, low Ba, Zr, Eu), but thickly ponded intracaldera CRT is capped by a more crystal-rich, less silicic facies. In the outflow ignimbrite, this upper zone is defined mainly by densely welded crystal-rich juvenile clasts of trachydacite composition, with higher Fe-Ti oxide temperatures, and is characterized by extremely high Ba (to 7,500 ppm), Zr, Sr, and positive Eu anomalies. Rare mafic clasts (51-53 wt% SiO2) with Ba contents to 4,000-5,000 ppm and positive Eu anomalies are also present. Much of the major and trace-element variations in the CRT juvenile clasts can be reproduced via in situ differentiation by interstitial melt extraction from a crystal-rich, upper-crustal mush zone, with the trachydacite, crystal-rich clasts representing the remobilized crystal cumulate left behind by the melt extraction process. Late recharge events, represented by the rare mafic clasts and high-Al amphiboles in some samples, mixed in with parts of the crystal cumulate and generated additional scatter in the whole-rock data. Recharge was important in thermally remobilizing the silicic crystal cumulate by partially melting the near-solidus phases, as supported by: (1) ubiquitous wormy/sieve textures and reverse zoning patterns in feldspars and biotites, (2) absence of quartz in this very silicic unit stored at depths of > 4-5 km, and (3) heterogeneous melt compositions in the trachydacite fiamme and mafic clasts, particularly in Ba, indicating local enrichment of this element due mostly to sanidine and biotite melting. The injection of hot, juvenile magma into the upper-crustal cumulate also imparted the observed thermal gradient to the deposits and the mixing overprint that partly masks the in situ differentiation process. The CRT provides a particularly clear perspective on processes of in situ crystal-liquid separation into a lower crystal-rich zone and an upper eruptible cap, which appears common in incrementally built upper-crustal magma reservoirs of high-flux magmatic provinces.

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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology