Volcano-Tectonic Evolution of the Central Death Valley Volcanic Field - Insights Derived from the Geologic Map of the Death Valley Junction 30' x 60' Quadrangle

Tuesday, 16 December 2014
Ren A Thompson1, Chris Fridrich2, Christine F Chan2, Kristine L Zellman2 and Jeremiah B Workman2, (1)USGS, Lakewood, CO, United States, (2)USGS, Denver, CO, United States
The geologic map of the Death Valley Junction 30’ x 60’ quadrangle encompasses many geologic features recording the Cenozoic volcano-tectonic evolution of central Death Valley. Most notable is the central Death Valley rhombochasm. The rhombochasm is a 65x80-km rhombic pull-apart basin complex that occupies the releasing step-over between the northern Death Valley—Furnace Creek and southern Death Valley faults. Stewart (1983) documented this feature by palinspastically restoring offset thrust fault segments and isopachs, thereby closing the rhombochasm. The central Death Valley volcanic field records the coincident and related magmatism that occurred during the extension and strike-slip strain that formed the rhombochasm. In the multi-stage evolution of this tectonomagmatic feature, changes in volcanic and structural styles, rates, and loci were synchronized, both spatially and temporally. The volcanic field covers an area of 3600 km2, and consists of >700 km3 of lava flows, domes, and pyroclastic deposits. Cenozoic map units reflect four major eruptive stages: Stage 1 (11-9 Ma: rhyolite and andesite), Stage 2 (9-7.5 Ma: dacite>basalt>andesite), Stage 3 (7-5 Ma: dacite>basalt), and Stage 4 (4.5-0.7 Ma: basalt). The predominant loci of eruptive centers migrated northwestward during this volcanic evolution, coeval with northwestward migration of adjacent depocenters. Stage 1 and 2 volcanism is broadly correlative to the supradetachment stage of rhombochasm development. Related intrusions include exposed upper-plate hypabyssal and lower-plate plutonic bodies. Stage 3 and 4 volcanism occurred during two tectonic stages in which higher-angle faults cut across the detachment fault, forming basins that are nested within the original detachment-floored area of the rhombochasm. Time-transgressive changes from dominantly silicic and intermediate magmas in Stages 1 and 2 to dominantly mafic and lesser intermediate magmas in Stages 3 and 4 coincided with decreases in eruptive volumes and rates. As a result, early syn-detachment basin fill in the rhombochasm is dominantly volcanic, whereas post-detachment basin-fill is mainly sedimentary. Only the westernmost part of the rhombochasm is still tectonically active, reflected in Quaternary faulting of young basin fill in central Death Valley.