Authors: Joseph P. Colgan[usgs.gov] (USGS) and Christopher D. Henry (NBMG)
Series: U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Professional Paper 1832
Format: Report: viii, 43 p.; figure; data release
ISSN: 2330-7102 (online)
View/download here: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/pp1832[pubs.er.usgs.gov]
Abstract: The magmatic, tectonic, and topographic evolution of what is now the northern Great Basin remains controversial, notably the temporal and spatial relation between magmatism and extensional faulting. This controversy is exemplified in the northern Toiyabe Range of central Nevada, where previous geologic mapping suggested the presence of a caldera that sourced the late Eocene (34.0 mega-annum [Ma]) tuff of Hall Creek. This region was also inferred to be the locus of large-magnitude middle Tertiary extension (more than 100 percent strain) localized along the Bernd Canyon detachment fault, and to be the approximate location of a middle Tertiary paleodivide that separated east and west-draining paleovalleys. Geologic mapping, 40Ar/39Ar dating, and geochemical analyses document the geologic history and extent of the Hall Creek caldera, define the regional paleotopography at the time it formed, and clarify the timing and kinematics of post-caldera extensional faulting. During and after late Eocene volcanism, the northern Toiyabe Range was characterized by an east-west trending ridge in the area of present-day Mount Callaghan, probably localized along a Mesozoic anticline. Andesite lava flows erupted around 35–34 Ma ponded hundreds of meters thick in the erosional low areas surrounding this structural high, particularly in the Simpson Park Mountains. The Hall Creek caldera formed ca. 34.0 Ma during eruption of the approximately 400 cubic kilometers (km3) tuff of Hall Creek, a moderately crystal-rich rhyolite (71–77 percent SiO2) ash-flow tuff. Caldera collapse was piston-like with an intact floor block, and the caldera filled with thick (approximately 2,600 meters) intracaldera tuff and interbedded breccia lenses shed from the caldera walls. The most extensive exposed megabreccia deposits are concentrated on or close to the caldera floor in the southwestern part of the caldera. Both silicic and intermediate post-caldera lavas were locally erupted within 400 thousand years of the main eruption, and for the next approximately 10 million years sedimentary rocks and distal tuffs sourced from calderas farther west ponded in the caldera basin surrounding low areas nearby. Patterns of tuff deposition indicate that the area was characterized by east-west trending paleovalleys and ridges in the late Eocene and Oligocene, which permitted tuffs to disperse east-west but limited their north-south extent. Although a low-angle fault contact of limited extent separates Cambrian and Ordovician strata in the southwestern part of the study area, there is no evidence that this fault cuts overlying Tertiary rocks. Total extensional strain across the caldera is on the order of 15 percent, and there is no evidence for progressive tilting of 34–25 Ma rocks that would indicate protracted Eocene–Oligocene extension. The caldera appears to have been tilted as an intact block after 25 Ma, probably during the middle Miocene extensional faulting well documented to the north and south of the study area.
This publication was prepared in cooperation with the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology.