Abstract

The Miocene Bruneau-Jarbidge and adjacent volcanic fields of the central Snake River Plain, southwest Idaho, are dominated by high-temperature rhyolitic tuffs and lavas having an aggregate volume estimated as 7000 km3. Samples from units representing at least 50% of this volume are strongly depleted in 18O, with magmatic feldspar δ18OVSMOW (Vienna standard mean ocean water) values between −1.4‰ and 3.8‰. The magnitude of the 18O depletion and the complete lack of any rhyolites with normal values (7‰–10‰) combine to suggest that assimilation or melting of a caldera block altered by near- contemporaneous hydrothermal activity is unlikely. Instead, we envisage generation of the high-temperature rhyolites by shallow melting of Idaho Batholith rocks, under the influence of the Yellowstone hotspot, affected by Eocene meteoric-hydrothermal events. The seeming worldwide scarcity of strongly 18O-depleted rhyolites may simply reflect a similar scarcity of suitable crustal protoliths.

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