Abstract

Jasper Seamount is a young, mid-sized (690 km3) oceanic intraplate volcano located about 500 km west-southwest of San Diego, California. Reliable 40Ar/39Ar age data were obtained for several milligram-sized samples of 4 to 10 Ma plagioclase by using a defocused laser beam to clean the samples before fusion. Gee and Staudigel suggested that Jasper Seamount consists of a transitional to tholeiitic shield volcano formed by flank transitional series lavas, overlain by flank alkalic series lavas and summit alkalic series lavas. Twenty-nine individual 40Ar/39Ar laser fusion analyses on nine samples confirm the stratigraphy:10.3-10.0 Ma for the flank transitional series, 8.7-7.5 Ma for the flank alkalic series, and 4.8-4.1 Ma for the summit alkalic series. The alkalinity of the lavas clearly increases with time, and there appear to be 1 to 3 m.y. hiatuses between each series. The age data are consistent with the complex magnetic anomaly of Jasper; however, the dominant reversed polarity inferred from the anomaly suggests that most of the seamount formed at ca. 11 Ma, prior to the onset of Chron C5N. The duration of volcanism of Jasper Seamount is slightly longer than the duration of volcanism at Hawaiian volcanoes, suggesting that individual age data from seamounts may constrain the age of a seamount only to within about 7 m.y. unless the stage of volcanism can be unambiguously determined. Extrapolating from the results of our study, similar precision in age determinations should be possible on 50 mg of 1 Ma plagioclase from mid-ocean ridge basalt, opening new possibilities in the geochronology of young, low-potassium volcanic rocks.

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