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The Columbia River flood basalt province, United States, is likely the most well-studied, radiometrically well-dated large igneous province on Earth. Compared with older, more-altered basalt in flood basalt provinces elsewhere, the Columbia River Basalt Group presents an opportunity for precise, accurate ages, and the opportunity to study relationships of volcanism with climatic excursions. We critically assess the available 40Ar/39Ar data for the Columbia River Basalt Group, along with K-Ar data, to establish an up-to-date picture of the timing of emplacement of the major formations that compose the lava stratigraphy. Combining robust Ar-Ar data with field constraints and paleomagnetic information leads to the following recommendations for the age of emplacement of the constituent formations: Steens Basalt, ca. 16.9 to ca. 16.6 Ma; Imnaha Basalt, ca. 16.7 to ca. 16 Ma; Grande Ronde Basalt, ca. 16 Ma to ca. 15.6 Ma; Wanapum Basalt, ca. 15.6 to ca. 15 Ma; and Saddle Mountains Basalt from ca. 15 Ma to ca. 6 Ma. The results underline the previously held observation that Columbia River Basalt activity was dominated by a brief, voluminous pulse of lava production during Grande Ronde Basalt emplacement. Under scrutiny, the data highlight areas of complexity and uncertainty in the timing of eruption phases, and demonstrate that even here in the youngest large igneous province, argon dating cannot resolve intervals and durations of eruptions.

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