238U–230Th crystallization ages for the oldest domes of the Mono Craters, eastern California

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Mae Marcaida and Jorge A Vazquez, USGS, Menlo Park, CA, United States
The Mono Craters volcanic chain is one of the youngest areas of rhyolitic volcanism in the Mono Lake–Long Valley region of eastern California. Located just south of Mono Lake, the Mono Craters comprise at least 28 individual domes and flows (numbered 3–30, north to south); however, the timing and frequency of eruptions remain poorly resolved. The earliest signs of volcanic activity are preserved as numerous tephra layers (Ashes 1–19, top to bottom) in the late Pleistocene Wilson Creek formation of ancestral Mono Lake, which indicate that rhyolitic volcanism from Mono Craters began by at least ca. 62 ka [1]. Although the current chronology indicates that most of the Mono Craters are younger than ca. 20 ka [2–4], similar compositions of titanomagnetite from both pumice and lava potentially correlate several Wilson Creek tephras to porphyritic biotite-bearing domes 11, 24, and 19 of the Mono Craters [5], suggesting that multiple domes in the Mono Craters chain reflect volcanism older than ca. 20 ka. Ash 3 is correlated to dome 11 based on similar ca. 20 ka ages and titanomagnetite compositions [6]. More recently, we performed ion microprobe 238U–230Th dating of unpolished rims of allanite and zircon from domes 24 and 19, yielding isochron ages of ca. 38 ka and ca. 42 ka, respectively. The age of dome 24 is consistent with the ca. 38 ka age of its potential correlative tephra layers [1, 5], indicating that dome 24 is likely the extrusive equivalent of Ashes 9–10. Dome 19 has titanomagnetite crystals with similar bimodal chemistry to titanomagnetites from Ash 15 [5]. The age of dome 19 is indistinguishable from the 238U–230Th age of Ash 15 [1], which erupted during a prominent geomagnetic excursion, originally designated as the “Mono Lake” excursion. Combining geochronological and titanomagnetite compositional data confirms that Ash 15 and its extrusive equivalent, dome 19, erupted during the Laschamp excursion.

[1] Vazquez, J.A. and Lidzbarski, M.I. (2012) EPSL 357–358: 54

[2] Dalrymple, G.B. (1967) EPSL 3: 289

[3] Bursik, M. and Sieh, K. (1989) JGR 94: 15587

[4] Hu, Q., et al. (1994) EPSL 123: 331

[5] Marcaida, M., et al. (2014) JVGR 273: 1

[6] Vazquez, J.A., et al. (2013) Abstract V13G-2698, Fall Meeting, AGU